To advance disaster response among health care professionals and first responders, a team of researchers from the University of the Philippines Manila - National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH) is establishing a Simulation-Based Learning Laboratory which shall house realistic outcomes-based training designed to replicate experiences of disasters for better preparedness.

The simulation-based learning laboratories are cheaper means of conducting realistic training techniques that improve preparedness for patient care, staff management, and interagency coordination, not only for managers and responders but also for the general public.



Funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, the said laboratory is part of the program titled “Center for Innovations for Cost-Effective Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Health (DRMM-H) Outcomes in NCR and the Philippines” led by Dr. Carlos Primero Gundran, professor at the Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies
of UPM-NIH.

Learned things not practiced are easily lost and forgotten. In order for muscle memory to be developed, we should immediately apply the theories we learned during training. Simulation-Based learning is thus essential in decreasing morbidity and mortality during disaster response,” said Dr. Gundran.

The team is formulating simulation training plans which consist of exercises designed to enhance memory, tabletop exercises from scene to hospital, testing communication effectiveness, and immediate patient care, among others, as part of the program’s overall objectives.

The project also aims to determine the training needs of healthcare workers and first responders in health response and identify available simulation training hardware and software around the world that can be used in DRRM-H programs. The laboratory will also benefit government agencies, NGOs responding to disasters, institutes, and trainers.



Simulation-based learning is being used in medical education to develop health professionals’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting patients from unnecessary risks, as it provides a valuable tool in learning and resolving practical dilemmas.

The project is part of the Niche Centre in the Region for R & D or NICER, a sub-program of DOST’s Science for Change which aims to advance the level of innovation in the country by providing R & D funding for public and private institutions to strengthen research in the regions. For more details about NICER, catch the replay of DOST’s report here.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) is now accepting proposals for the study, Potential Fraud Index Claims for the years 2019-2020.This study is part of the PhilHealth STUDIES (Strengthening the Thrust for Universal Health Care through Data, Information, and Knowledge Exchange Systems) project, a collaboration between PCHRD and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).PhilHealth STUDIES provides funding for R&D, capacity building, and research dissemination projects focusing on the development of evidence-based policy recommendations on PhilHealth programs and services.

The Terms of References can be downloaded here and the PCHRD proposal forms here.

WHO MAY APPLY

Filipinos with at least a Master’s Degree in a relevant field, have proven research competence/track record, and employed in universities/colleges, research institutes, hospitals, and other health-related agencies are eligible to apply for the research grant. Interested private foundations and firms, engaged in scientific activities, must be registered as a Science & Technology Foundation under the DOST Science and Technology Foundation Unit (https://sfu.dost.gov.ph/) to be eligible for the grant.

REQUIREMENTS

We encourage interested parties to submit the following documents via email to Mr. Marc Enrico Hasta at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. not later than August 7, 2020.

  1. Letter of Intent addressed to PCHRD Executive Director
  2. Project Proposal following the PCHRD Detailed Proposal Form
  3. Workplan Schedule (Gantt Chart of Activities)
  4. Proposed Line-Item Budget (LIB)
  5. Curriculum Vitae of lead proponent (Project Leader)
  6. Duties and Responsibilities of each project personnel
  7. Profile of the institution
  8. Endorsement of the agency head

For more information, please contact Mr. Marc Enrico Hasta via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the mobile number 0927-152-2891 (Globe).

With the pressing need to continuously develop ways to prevent COVID-19 transmission especially among healthcare workers, the University of the Philippines - Manila (UPM), with support from the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), will conduct the project: “SIBOL Personal Protective Equipment - Design and Development of Locally-Manufactured, Reusable, Powered, Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR).”

The project proponents aim to design and develop an innovative PAPR as a chemical and biological protection for COVID-19 high-risk procedures such as intubation, endoscopies, sample collection and testing, among others. The equipment will serve as an additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 while they care for the infected patients.

A PAPR uses a pump that moves contaminated air through a high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filter which removes particulates through mechanical and electrostatic mechanisms. Built with three main components, the motor or air pump, the filter, and the mask or helmet, the PAPR provides contaminant-free air to the user.

By conducting the project, we are aiming to offer additional protection for our healthcare workers, so that they may be able to carry out their tasks safely and comfortably,” says project leader Dr. Samuel Arsenio Grozman.

Our healthcare workers are at the core of our battle against COVID-19,” emphasizes DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime C. Montoya. “It is imperative that we mobilize our resources and maximize our capacities to provide R&D solutions that will assist and protect them in this fight,” he adds.

Aside from developing a PAPR that will meet the standards set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the project also aims to activate the supply chain towards the production and testing of PAPR in the country.

As a highly-communicable disease with no definitive treatment, COVID-19 continues to pose risks to public health, especially healthcare workers who work at the frontlines.



Last July 1, 2020, the DOST-PCHRD received 250 face shields from the DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) as one of the beneficiaries for the project “Face Shields for the People in the Frontlines.”

The DOST-MIRDC distributed more than 200,000 pieces of 3D-printed face shields to 25 provinces and 220 institutions nationwide. The main objective of the project is to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to various hospitals and DOST line agencies working on the front lines.

Like DOST-MIRDC, the DOST-PCHRD continues to support projects and programs that would contribute to the country’s fight against COVID-19. The whole of DOST is working as one to ensure that science-driven solutions are in place to make lives better for Filipinos through research and development. 

The coronavirus, not even a living thing, has transformed how the world works. Technically, all homes now are quarantine facilities. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, isolation became the new norm, with strict social distancing and “stay at home” policies, being critical to protect our physical health from a public health emergency.

But this might be taking a toll on our mental health, warns Balik Scientist Dr. Christian Gloria: “The COVID-19 pandemic is the initial crisis, followed by the economic crisis, and—now—we are beginning to see the coming wave of the mental health crisis as a consequence of the first two. At this point, the primary source of stress and anxiety—aside from the pandemic—is the question of “how will we survive through the quarantines, lockdowns, and joblessness for however long this will last?”

Being a public health expert himself, Dr. Gloria sees that it is critical to include mental health as part of public health response. This means that a holistic approach in responding to a health crisis is not a choice but a necessity, as cases of mental health disorders continue to spike along with the surge of COVID-19 infections worldwide.


Many people and families are without enough income, food, shelter, financial assistance, and healthcare for over three months. Everyday, we have been worrying about yesterday, today, tomorrow, and the uncertainties of when these struggles will end. These incredibly challenging times are chronically stressful, and it is well known in research that chronic stress significantly contributes to the development of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression disorders,” he added.

The good news is that this coming wave of mental health crisis is preventable, and one sure way of achieving that is for the government and other abled organizations to help the people meet their said needs. Enable people to survive these trying months by simply providing enough food, water, and funds, and we will effectively prevent many health problems from arising—mentally, physically, and socially.”

People are struggling [with mental health] and we need to help them. But before we can help them, we need data in order to understand where we are now and what programs and services are needed to ensure a healthy and bright future for all,” Dr. Gloria emphasized. This is his impetus for conducting mental health research in the Philippines, as part of his Balik Scientist engagement with the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).

Curious about how mental health research is like through the lens of a public health expert, our team had the opportunity to discuss with Dr. Gloria on how we can communicate mental health with our audiences. Dr. Gloria let us in on his own insights, experiences, and personal thoughts, through another feature story which will be prepared by our expert himself. For now, let us get to know Dr. Christian Gloria.

 

Specializing in health behavior

Dr. Gloria is currently the Department Chair and Associate Professor of Public Health at Hawaii Pacific University (HPU). He earned his PhD, specializing in Health Behavior and Health Education, from The University of Texas at Austin in 2013. Four years prior, he obtained his Master’s degree in Health Education from the same University.

He relocated to Hawaii to “pursue his life’s calling of teaching, conducting research, and providing public health services in Asia and the Pacific.” Some of the courses he is currently teaching are related to public health research and communication, risk and resilience, health behavior theories, and public health program planning and leadership.

Dr. Gloria has also led various public health organizations in Hawaii. In 2017, he became the first Filipino-citizen to be elected as the President of the Hawaii Public Health Association (HPHA) since its founding in 1945. HPHA is one of the largest chapters of the American Public Health Association. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Faculty Assembly at HPU’s College of Health & Society, which houses undergraduate and graduate programs in Nursing, Public Health, Social Work, and Physical Therapy. Many students from these programs are Filipino-Americans. He received the Progress Award for Education from the United Filipino Council of Hawaii in 2017 and was also recognized as the 2018 Friend of Social Work by the Hawaii Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

 

The research journey

In 2018, Dr. Gloria collaborated with Angeles University Foundation (AUF) in Angeles City, Pampanga, where he also became an Adjunct professor and worked as consultant for the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)-funded project Mental Health Across Ages: Identifying Issues and Trends in Pampanga. His research with AUF generated baseline data on mental health concerns, which will become the basis for the development and establishment of a mental health care program in Pampanga.

A year after, he became a DOST-PCHRD Balik Scientist which allowed him to share more of his expertise to the country. Currently, he is involved in three mental health research projects in the Philippines, one of which is a study about the mental health of healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 health crisis.


Dr. Gloria also published several research publications on various topics under public health, risk and resilience, and mental health in collaboration with other experts on health-related fields. One of the research projects he is currently working on is about identifying the mental health issues and trends across ages in Pampanga.

Among Dr. Gloria’s hobbies are practicing yoga, learning to play the ukulele, reading in coffee shops, and watching shows on Netflix.


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In an article published online, experts warned that the pandemic may lead to behavioral problems and mental illnesses, as COVID-19 is described to be a “traumatic event” that everyone is experiencing.

With plans to delve deeper into mental health research discussions, we are preparing another feature story about mental health research experiences authored by Dr. Gloria himself. We are also inviting everyone to participate in our online poll in DOST-PCHRD’s Facebook and Twitter pages, to determine which mental health-related topics are mostly preferred by our stakeholders for our future mental health communication campaigns.

Stay updated for future stories in our online channels here.


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The Balik Scientist Program

The Balik Scientist Program (BSP) is the brain gain initiative of the government which aims to tap into the ingenuity and expertise of Filipinos abroad to strengthen the S&T capabilities of local researchers in the academe, public and private sectors, and industry. The program was initiated to reverse the effects of brain drain, to provide researchers and scientists whose expertise are not available locally, and to accelerate the flow of new strategic technologies that are vital to national development.

BSP was established in 1975 and was later reinstated in DOST in 1993. Through the efforts of Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV and Congressman Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado, their co-author, Congresswoman Divina Grace Yu, and all the legislators in the Senate and Congress, the Republic Act 11035 also known as an “Act Institutionalizing the Balik Scientist Program” was signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on June 15, 2018. The enacted law strengthened the implementation of BSP by giving better incentives and benefits to returning Filipino experts, scientists, inventors, and engineers who would return and share their expertise.

With the passing of the law, a science, technology, or innovation (STI) expert or professional who is a Filipino citizen or a foreigner of Filipino descent can apply and undertake STI activities on his/her field of expertise through a host institution under short term, medium term, or long term engagement.