President Rodrigo Roa Duterte conferred the prestigious Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award to Biotek M lead Dr. Raul Destura of the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) for his contributions to health and medical biotechnology, especially in diagnostics during the awards rites on 10 September 2019 in Malacañang.
Dr. Destura, with support from the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) led the development of the award-winning Biotek M dengue aqua kit for a faster, more affordable and accessible diagnosis for dengue. As the kit is capable of detecting the infection within an hour from extraction, it is seen to ultimately lessen the number of hospital admittance and lower health expenses, especially for the marginalized sectors of the community.
The annual Search for Outstanding Government Workers forms part of the Civil Service Commission’s Honor Awards Program (HAP). The award aims to recognize civil servants who have shown exemplary performance and have contributed significantly in achieving our national goals.
Tuberculosis claims more lives than HIV/AIDS.
Despite being a preventable and curable disease, tuberculosis or TB kills an average of 70 Filipinos daily according to the Department of Health.  It is considered as one of the most pressing health concerns not only in the country but globally as well.
Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread when a person with active TB expels microscopic, bacteria-carrying droplets when they cough or sneeze. A person can contract the bacteria by inhaling these droplets in extended periods of time. Symptoms of the disease include: severe coughs that lasts 3 weeks or longer, chest pains, coughing up blood, unintended weight loss, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
One of the major challenges in decreasing TB burden in the country is that the disease is highly prevalent in urban poor communities with little access to health care, according to an article on TB detection and patient care in Payatas and Tondo published in the journal Public Health Action in 2017. Although local government units (LGUs) implement programs to bring TB-patient care services to those who need them, there are several factors that hinder TB presumptive patients to undergo diagnosis and seek appropriate treatment. In Payatas and Tondo, poor communication by healthcare workers as well as inconsistent follow ups contribute to late diagnosis and delayed treatment of the disease.
Moreover, there is a tendency of inaccurate diagnosis due to the symptoms being similar to those of other diseases. To address this problem, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development under the Department of Science and Technology supports projects that provide more accurate diagnosis of the disease. One such PCHRD-funded project is the Newton Agham Tuberculosis Filipino Impact Testing (TB FIT) by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute (DLSMHSI) which developed a local mathematical model to determine the cost-effectiveness of new TB diagnostics and predicted a new point-of-care. Another project is the Low-cost Point-of-care Diagnostics for Simultaneous Detection of Paragonimus westermani and Mycobacterium tuberculosis using RPA technology being developed by the University of the Philippines Manila- Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.  

However, the challenges on TB management do not end with early detection. It is followed by the need to undergo consistent medication for a minimum of six months according to the Department of Health. If treatment is interrupted, there is a risk of developing drug-resistant tuberculosis which progresses faster and is harder to cure. In this regard, training healthcare workers and educating patients are key to increasing TB detection among presumptive patients, allowing them to receive appropriate treatment as early as possible.
As the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) 2017-2022 identifies communicable diseases such as tuberculosis as one of its research priorities, the DOST-PCHRD is also funding projects that aim to strengthen TB-control efforts in communities by initiating systemic improvements. One of these is the project “Cavite for a community approach study to control and halt Drug Resistant TB (COACH-DRTC)” of the De La Salle Health Science Institute. This promotes a multi-sectoral involvement in reinforcing the TB-control programs in the province by fostering collaborations between its LGUs and health offices.
Through DOST-PCHRD, the Philippines is also involved in international initiatives on TB control and mitigation through research. The Philippines established a consortium under the Regional Prospective Observational Research for Tuberculosis (RePORT) which is a network of international consortia comprising of high TB burden areas around the world. This promotes collaboration among its members to advance tuberculosis research in their respective countries.
For more information on projects and programs for tuberculosis diagnosis and treatments supported by the DOST-PCHRD, you may browse through the PCHRD website at

Seven out of 35 researchers were recognized with the “Most Ready to Publish Paper” during the 16th Medical Writing Workshop for Young Researchers on 13-14 August 2019 at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City.

Held in conjunction with the 13th Philippine National Health Research System Week, the award was given to participants whose research papers are deemed by the facilitators as well-written, organized, and have the greatest potential for publishing in peer reviewed journals.

Winners from this batch are as follows: Dr. Maria Bettina Quiambao from Philippine General Hospital, Ms. Katherine Kyra Alonday from the University of Santo Tomas, Dr. Lara Gabrielle Lim from the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, Ms. Nicole Bolo from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Mr. Noriel Calaguas and Mr. John Mark De Vera from Holy Angel University, and Mr. Huemer Uy from Cebu Normal University.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, in partnership with the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE) and Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME), conducts the writing workshop twice every year to help young researchers in health sciences acquire practical knowledge and writing skills in developing scientific articles for publications in scholarly peer-reviewed journals.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. dela Pena urged researchers, academe, private institutions and government to build on partnerships and solidarity to address the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) for the country during the 13th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week.

In line with the theme, “Achieving Health-Related Sustainable Development Goals through Research and Innovation,” Sec. dela Pena reiterated that although addressing the most pressing health concerns of the country is the commitment of the PNHRS and its consortia members, it is also relevant to contribute to the achievement of all the other SDGs through partnerships and collaborations.

In his message delivered by DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Guevara, the Secretary said that, "The importance of partnerships in achieving the SDG targets behooves on us to always keep an open mind, to be ready to accommodate new ideas from people or sectors which are not in our traditional circles while recognizing that we too can contribute to other sectors.”

He further explained the role of all the regional consortia as key in ensuring equity in research and development and in making sure that all the research outputs are utilized.

The 13th PNHRS Week covered various topics on health, health research, policy making and research dissemination with 22 sessions during its 4-day long celebration held at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, last August 13 to 16, 2019.