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“No matter how good the research was, if it is unpublished, it is incomplete,” said Professor Jose Florencio Lapeña, Jr, Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Journal of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and President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).

Mr. Takahiro Sasaki,Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), stood side by side in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, marking the inauguration of the long awaited LepCon Laboratory.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the inauguration of the LepCon Laboratory at the Lara Hall, University of the Philippines Manila – College of Public Health (UPM-CPH) on January 26, 2012. The event was graced by Mr. Takahiro Sasaki, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) on behalf of DOST Sec. Mario G. Montejo, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, Director of the Division of Health Securities and Emergency of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Manuel B. Agulto, Chancellor of the UPM, Professor Shin-Ichi Yoshida of the Kyushu University (KU) - Department of Bacteriology Faculty of Medical Sciences, Dr. Nina G. Gloriani, Dean of the UPM-CPH and Professor Emeritus Yasutake Yanagihara, the pioneering scientist in leptospirosis research in the Philippines.

In his message, read by Dr. Montoya, the DOST Secretary mentioned the importance of the establishment of the said laboratory in helping the communities affected by the disease.

He said, “The importance of early case detection and treatment cannot be over emphasized. Aside from people’s awareness of the disease, laboratory support for the diagnosis is equally crucial.”

The program for the Prevention and Control of Leprospirosis (LepCon) in the Philippines was started by the UPM-CPH on April 1, 2010 in collaboration with JICA, PCHRD-DOST, KU and the WHO. Through the collaborative work of Filipino and Japanese scientists from UPM and KU, it aims to be the center of leptospirosis research, not only in the Philippines, but also in Asia.

Mr. Sasaki and Dean Gloriani signed the Deed of Donation for the JICA-funded renovation of the 4th floor of Lara Hall as the new LepCon laboratory and procurement of new, state-of-the-art lab equipment.

Dean Gloriani expressed her appreciation and excitement for the future of leptospirosis R&D in Asia because of the establishment of the said laboratory and the progress in the joint researches of UPM-CPH and KU-Faculty of Medical Sciences.

She said, “Thank you very much and we hope that we can further expand our collaboration. Our SEAMEO TropMed Representatives are here; SEAMEO TropMed of Thailand and SEAMEO TropMed of Malaysia. I hope that we can really expand our research from the Philippines to these two countries and to the rest of ASEAN later on.”

The President with the sixty ISO-certified agencies. Photo by Office of the President of the Philippines

In the 3rd Recognition Ceremony for Government Organizations with ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System (QMS) Certifications last January 17, 2012 at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace, Manila, President Benigno S. Aquino III declares his confidence of achieving his goals to bring about reforms in the government and in public services.

“Sagisag nga po ang pagtitipon natin ngayon na marami tayong kasangga sa ating agenda ng mabuting pamamahala at nagtatagumpay na tayo sa tuwid na daan [Let this assembly be an indication that we are one in our agenda for good governance and we are in the process of achieving that],” he said.

An ISO Certification ensures that a company or a government agency abides to a set of globally recognized standards for quality management. Sixty government agencies, including the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), were given recognition by the President for acquiring ISO 9001:2008 certification.

While the President lauded the sixty agencies for having achieved the recognition, he challenged them to never stop pursuing excellence in their work. The President called for these agencies to join him in his aspiration for efficient governance and public service.

“Kaakibat ng iginawad sa inyong pagkilala ngayong araw, magsilbi rin sanang hamon at inspirasyon ito upang patuloy kayong magpamalas ng katangi-tanging pamamahala at epektibong pagtupad sa tungkulin [May the recognition that you receive today inspire you to continue with exceptional governance and effective fulfillment of your duties],” the President said.

(From Left to Right) Professor Shin-Ichi Yoshida , Dr. Takeshi Sakai, Dr. Manuel B. Agulto, Mr. Takahiro Sasaki, Dr. Jaime Montoya, and Dean Nina Gloriani.

With the attention that the leptospirosis outbreak in Mindanao is getting from the media lately, it seems impossible to believe that it is among the many illnesses that are often ignored around the world. One would only think about the lives lost due to leptospirosis on the aftermaths of typhoons Ondoy and Sendong, in order to picture how scary it must be to be afflicted with this deadly disease. Yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) includes it in its list of Neglected Global Diseases.

Dr. Takeshi Kasai, Director of the Division of Health Securities and Emergency of the World Health Organization (WHO), explained, “We know leptospirosis is not a small public health problem in our region; yet it is a neglected disease. Even from the WHO’s list of Neglected Global Diseases, it is included. It has not received any attention except during the outbreaks.”

Hence, the inauguration of LepCon Laboratory at the Lara Hall at the University of the Philippines Manila – College of Public Health (UPM-CPH) on January 26, 2012, will help build better understanding on the nature of the disease through leptospirosis R&D.

LepCon or the Prevention and Control of Leptospirosis in the Philippines was started by the UPM-CPH on April 1, 2010 in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), Kyushu University (KU) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The creation of the LepCon laboratory is just one of the many steps that the collaboration made in order to bring about better understanding on the cure and prevention of leptospirosis. So far, studies on the identification of serovars, prevention and control of outbreaks and even creation of vaccines that could help treat the disease are all making breakthroughs through the combined efforts of researches in the UPM-CPH and KU.

The plight of many people affected by leptospirosis is a sad reality that Dr. Kasai had personally seen. He understands that even though only a few researchers are engaging in leptospirosis R&D, the recent advancements in the LepCon program shows a glint of hope in the fight against this lethal, but often ignored, disease.

“When Ondoy came to this country a few years ago, we were faced with a very sad reality, a reality that many lives suffered because of a neglected disease,” he said. However, he expressed his optimism as he explained, “I’m sure that with the development of this new research program on the prevention and control of leptospirosis in the Philippines, we’ll enter a new stage in addressing leptospirosis.”

PNoy reminds PCHRD and 59 other ISO-certified agencies to continue striving for excellence in their work. Photo by the Office of the President of the Philippines

President Benigno S. Aquino III honored the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) and fifty-nine other government institutions and agencies last Tuesday, January 17, 2012, at the Malacañang for receiving ISO 9001:2008 certification.

In his speech, the President expressed his gratitude to the ISO recipients for doing their best to strive for excellence in management and governance.

“Lubos tayong nagpapasalamat sa iba’t ibang organisasyon ng gobyerno na nakakamit ng ISO 9001 Certification; patunay ito sa ipinapamalas ninyong dedikasyon at propesyunalismo sa inyong tungkulin [I am grateful to the government agencies that have received the ISO 9001 Certification; a proof of the dedication and professionalism that you show in your respective duties],” the President said.

ISO 9001:2008 requires companies and government agencies to consistently follow a quality management system in delivering government services that is recognized worldwide. The ISO certification guarantees that quality management systems have been set up, implemented and maintained by a company or a government agency.

Executive Order (EO) No. 605, which was signed on February 23, 2007, mandates government agencies to work for ISO certification of government processes towards citizen-centric services.

The certification is a testimony to the PCHRD’s mission to “practise good governance to effectively perform the Council’s role in leading, managing and coordinating the health research system.”

The President also reminded everyone to always continue striving for excellence in public service. He said that the Council, as well as the 59 other awardees, should set example to all government agencies in the country to push for honest and credible public service.

He said, “Nawa’y hindi kayo magsawang magtrabaho nang tapat at manatili kayong gabay ng iba pang mga institusyon sa bansa. [I hope that you continue to work with honesty and set good example to other institutions in the country.]”