The Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB), together with Forum for Ethical Review Committees in the Asian and Western Pacific Region (FERCAP), held an Advance Training for Surveyors and Accreditors on ethical review practices from January 30 to February 8, 2012. The primary objective of the training was to promote good ethical review practices in health research in the Asia and Pacific region by implementing international criteria for surveying and evaluating ethical review practices.

Scope of the training included the following areas: (a) training and certification of in-country surveyors of ethical review practices; (b) translation and in-country adaptation of the Surveying and Evaluating Ethical Review Practices guideline; (c) development of in-country and regional standards for recognition of ethical review committees; and (d) development of international human subject protection standards.

In the workshop, the participants were divided into working groups, each group with one facilitator. Working groups carried out an evaluation of the ethics committees of research institutions. The last days of the training were devoted to site visits: February 1-3 at the Philippine Heart Center and February 6-8 at the Medical City.

Members and affiliates of Asian and Western Pacific Ethics Committee participated in the training.  Lead surveyors and coordinators were Dr. Cristina E. Torres (FERCAP), Dr. Cecilia Tomas (PHREB), Ms. Julia Lu, Dr. Marita Reyes, Dr. Salome Vios, and Asst. Prof. Edlyn Jimenez.

Dr. Manuel Agulto and Mr. Masanori Kurisu shook each others hands after signing the MOU.

Dr. Manuel B. Agulto, Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), Dr. Nina G. Gloriani, Dean of the UPM - College of Public Health (UPM-CPH), Mr. Masanori Kurisu of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), on behalf of the JICA Chief Representative Mr. Takahiro Sasaki, and Prof. Shin-Ichi Yoshida of Kyushu University (KU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize the agreement on the result of discussions at the 2nd Joint Coordinating Meeting (JCC Meeting) of the Japanese Technical Cooperation for the Project on Prevention and Control of Leptospitosis in the Philippines (LepCon), held at the Lara Hall, UPM-CPH on January 26, 2012.

LepCon is a program under the collaboration of the signing parties, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) that aims to form various research collaborations between Filipino and Japanese scientists to enhance the prevention and control of leptospirosis in the country. The program officially commenced on April 01, 2010.

The 2nd JCC Meeting shed light on the implemented activities in LepCon program over the past year such as conducting counterpart training between experts of UPM-CPH and KU, carrying out both local and international conferences, establishing a LepCon laboratory, and also the progresses made by the four working groups in bacteriological surveillance of leptospirosis, burden of disease, development of diagnostic kits for antigen detection, evaluation of diagnostic kits for antibody detection development of vaccines and epidemiology. Other important issues like future plans for project implementation and coordination with other agencies were also tackled.

After signing the MOU, Dean Gloriani mentioned the possibility for the overseas expansion of LepCon, granted that the program continues with its mission to help in the control and promotion of leptospirosis in the Philippines.

She said, “LepCon will continue to grow and pursue its mission in the control and promotion of leptospirosis in the Philippines. We hope that we could further expand this undertaking with the rest of Southeast Asia and, possibly, the rest of the world.”

The Research Utilization (RU) and Making the Consortium Website Active meeting held at S&T Complex, Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City

Given its flexibility and extensive reach, a website is considered as an effective tool to achieve the purposes of communication: to inform, to educate, and to promote institutional programs and services. With this in mind, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) convened a meeting on Research Utilization (RU) and Making the Consortium Website Active last 19 January 2011 at the DOST Regional Office in Cebu City.

The PCHRD, headed by Ms. Merlita Opeña, Chief of the Research Information, Communication and Utilization Division (RICUD) discussed RU concerns of the Regional Health Research and Development Consortia (RHRDC) in Region VII and strategies on how to improve and maximize the use of the consortium’s website in advancing health R&D in the region.

During the meeting, Ms. Opeña stressed the importance of having an active website in promoting research initiatives and activities of the consortium. “Our website is our window to the world. Its extensive reach makes it the best vehicle to promote what we are doing to our communities and researchers in the whole world,” said Ms Opeña.

She also emphasized that research utilization is not just about libraries and information databases. “We should also bridge the gap between the researchers and the users of the technology. In promoting health research, we need to be creative and go outside our traditional way of doing things -- to capture the fast development in health R&D.”

Given its flexibility and extensive reach, a website is considered as an effective tool to achieve the purposes of communication: to inform, to educate, and to promote institutional programs and services. With this in mind, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) convened a meeting on Research Utilization (RU) and Making the Consortium Website Active last 19 January 2011 at the DOST Regional Office in Cebu City.

The PCHRD, headed by Ms. Merlita Opeña, Chief of the Research Information, Communication and Utilization Division (RICUD) discussed RU concerns of the Regional Health Research and Development Consortia (RHRDC) in Region VII and strategies on how to improve and maximize the use of the consortium’s website in advancing health R&D in the region.

During the meeting, Ms. Opena stressed the importance of having an active website in promoting research initiatives and activities of the consortium. "Our website is our window to the world. Its extensive reach makes it the best vehicle to promote what we are doing to our communities and researchers in the whole world," said Ms Opena.

She also emphasized that research utilization is not just about libraries and information databases. "We should also bridge the gap between the researchers and the users of the technology. In promoting health research, we need to be creative and go outside our traditional way of doing things -- to capture the fast development in health R&D."

Participants of the workshop pose during photo op

“No matter how good the research was, if it is unpublished, it is incomplete,” said Professor Jose Florencio Lapeña, Jr, Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Journal of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and President of the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE) during the National Medical Writing and Review Workshop conducted at Marriott Hotel in Cebu City on 19-20 January 2012.

One of the reasons why scientific journal publishing is weak in the country is the quality of articles being submitted for publication. “The quality of articles being written does not meet the editorial standards of medical journals,” said Dr. Lapeña. “This is the reason why we want to hold this workshop. We want to help and guide health researchers to write scientific articles for medical journals.”

The workshop taught the participants the basics of writing scientific articles, its principles and guidelines, effective presentation of statistical results, tabulations and illustrations. Resource speakers discussed the editorial workflow, peer review processes, the roles and responsibilities of editors and reviewers, plagiarisms and ethical guidelines in scientific writing and reporting.

In his presentation, Professor Lapeña stressed the advantages of writing for medical journals. He said that aside from career, professional and institutional gains, writing for journals will contribute knowledge to medical discipline and provide opportunity for information sharing leading to wider utilization and application of research results.

He added that “doing research is important, but writing what, why and how it was done, is even more important because it serves as permanent documentation of scientific works and preserves the legacy of researchers’ accomplishments.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Wilfred Peh, Clinical Professor at the National University of Singapore and President of the Singapore Association of Medical Journal Editors (SAMJE) discussed the different structures of scientific papers, authorship and contributorship, and the tools that can help medical journals to effectively and efficiently screen quality articles for publication.

Dr. Peh emphasized the important role of reviewers in the scientific process and publication system. Reviewers who are usually doctors or scientists working in the same area of interest are responsible in safeguarding the quality and credibility of results of the study. “They aid as gatekeepers that will determine whether the manuscript will be published or rejected,” said Dr. Peh.

Dr. Cecilia Maramba – Lazarte, Pediatrician and Pharmacology Professor at the University of the Philippines Manila and Editor-in-chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of the Philippines Journal (PIDSPJ) tackled the criteria of case reports for medical journal publications.

“Publishable patient case report should describe rare, perplexing new diseases, new method of diagnosis, unexpected association between diseases and symptoms, new side effects and complications as well as new strategies or improved treatment that will spawn new research and provide information that strays from classical textbook cases,” she said.

The National Medical Writing and Review Workshop was organized by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) in collaboration with Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE) and Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME).