“Personal Learning Networks (PLN) provide more opportunities for research collaborations, a wider platform for policy and advocacy campaign, and an excellent venue to mentor and develop advocacy networks,” emphasized Dr. Jaifred Christian Lopez, Technical Consultant for the Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes (AIHO) in one of the six tracks during the 4th Healthcare and Social Media Summit held on 9 June 2018 in Davao City.

As described by Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan, Director of the Medical Informatics Unit of the University of the Philippines-Manila, PLN is a network of trustworthy connections wherein an individual can gather, collect, communicate, create, and share knowledge and experience. During the event, Dr. Isip-Tan encouraged everyone to start PLNs by creating a Twitter account and start following notable people in their field of interest. She stressed that for PLN to be effective, one should be able to follow at least 200 persons as this number creates a steady stream of information and interaction. Dr. Isip-Tan said, “Participation in Twitter discussions is one of the keys for success. By participating in Tweetchats, which are live, moderated, and focused Twitter conversations, individuals end up connecting with other professionals of the same interests.”

In the context of global health, using social media such as Twitter in establishing PLNs helps bridge the distance of researchers, enables easier collaboration, information exchange, and partnerships. “Social media platforms such as Twitter allows health professionals discuss topics in health regardless of the distance,” said Dr. Lopez. As discussed by Dr. Lopez, social media features such as hashtags help collate data, opinions, and statements on health issues, provide users an in-depth look and give them more opportunities for research collaborations.

Live-tweeting, as an effective technique in developing PLNs, was discussed by Dr. Guinevere Dy-Agra of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians. She explained that live tweeting involves real-time posting of happenings, quotes, and information during events which allow event participants to share what they are currently learning to other people, help them focus better on the session, allow to retain information better, and strengthen participants’ network. “During a conference, collective discussion and social media coverage of a particular topic discussed helps immerse people who are not present there, and gives them personal takes and allows them to read first-hand experiences about the event,” stressed Dr. Agra.

With the support from the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, this year’s summit was organized in partnership with the #HealthXPh and AIHO. The summit is an annual gathering of healthcare professionals, patients, and health advocates to discuss the healthcare and social media and its impact to the country’s health system.

For more info on upcoming events and conferences by the Council, please visit http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/ and http://www.healthresearch.ph/


The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, in partnership with the health advocacy social media group #HealthXPh, held the 4
th Healthcare and Social Media Summit on 9 June 2018 at Grand Regal Hotel, Davao City.

With the theme “Social Media and Health Professions Education: Shaping the Future through Research and Innovation,” the event highlighted the impact of social media in work, education, and research particularly in developing partnerships, encouraging collaboration, and building networks.

The summit focused on six tracks along with healthcare social media research presentations. The program tracks are as follows: use of social media by teachers in health professions education, use of social media by students, establishing personal learning networks on Twitter for medical educators and healthcare professionals, building presence for advocacies on social media, developing policies for social media, and social media for patients and advocates.

In his message read by Research Information Communication and Utilization Division Chief, Ms. Merlita Opeña, PCHRD Executive Director, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, emphasized the importance of social media in the current generation as a tool in everyday life. He said, “Social media is used not only to share ideas and show interests, but also to build relationship and form communities.”

Closing the summit was an unconference, a session which gives the chance to more than 150 summit participants to sit in a panel of five persons at a time to discuss healthcare and social topics and offer their opinions and answers to questions submitted through Twitter.

The Healthcare and Social Media Summit, a yearly event supported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, brings together health professionals and researchers in social media to discuss the current trends and the impact of social media platforms in research and health innovation.

For more information on other upcoming events and conferences, please visit http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/ and http://www.healthresearch.ph/



The country celebrates the approval of the Philippine Mental Health Law or Republic Act 11036 after it was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on 21 June 2018.

Before the law, the Philippines belonged to the one quarter of countries in the world without legislation that supports mental health. The enactment of the Mental Health Act serves as a monumental step toward providing the necessary mental health services the population needs.

The law enables barangays to provide mental health services through the scaling up of community and grassroots mental health programs, integration of psychiatric, psychosocial, and neurological services in government hospitals, and promotion of mental health education in school and workplace.


According to a joint study in 2014 by the University of the Philippines Manila National Institute–Institute of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Health, Foundation for Advancement of Clinical Epidemiology and Philippine Psychiatric Association, which analyzed data from 2,562 patients with mental illness, schizophrenia is the top brain disorder affecting mentally ill Filipinos. RA 11036 will help address the needs of the growing population that only has 700 psychiatrists and 1000 psychiatric nurses serving it by securing the rights and welfare of mental health professionals.

Among other provisions in the law, schools and workplaces will be required to create programs and services on mental health education, while institutions and businesses will be given training on mental health to address the concerns of both students and employees.

While such enactment is a huge step in making mental health care more affordable and accessible, the law also highlighted the importance of research and development to gather evidences required to formulate and develop culturally-relevant national mental health program including indigenous knowledge and practices related to mental health. In conducting mental health research, the law emphasized that researchers must ensure that informed consent were sought and approved by an accredited ethics committee. Research on mental health is listed as a priority under the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) 2017 – 2022.

Through this law, PCHRD hopes that research mental health could be further improved and supported, and the development of better policies, services, and programs will be enacted, paving the way to healthier and happier Filipino nation.

For more information on the grant services of the Council, please visit our website and  PCHRD Project Management System.


In its aim to promote healthy lifestyle, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) spearheads the conduct of #HatawAgham4 on 19 July 2018 at the World Trade Center Manila.

Hataw Agham, part of the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration, includes various physical activities and series of health talks. For this year’s event, Zumba demonstration will be led by Ms. Natalie Uy-Chan of Zumba Fitness Philippines while, Dr. Lorna Espeso of Adamson University will lecture on healthy lifestyle for people with desk jobs.

Through #HatawAgham4, the Council hopes to encourage individuals to work toward goals in achieving healthy lifestyle. Interested participants may register at https://bit.ly/2ty47ZY . For more info about the National Science and Technology Week, please visit pchrd.dost.gov.ph.


Science and technology sector celebrates another success with the President’s signing of the “Balik Scientist Act” on 15 June 2018.  The Republic Act No. 11035 strengthens the implementation of the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) by providing incentives to foreign-based Filipino scientists who will go back to the country to transfer knowledge and share expertise.

Established in 1975, the BSP aims to promote information exchange and accelerate the flow of new technology into the country through strengthening the scientific and technological human resource of the academe, public, and private institutions.

The law mandates DOST to invite Filipino scientists across the globe to return and serve as experts and consultants in improving the science and technology agenda of the country. The Department approves and awards short-term, medium-term, and long-term commitment of returning scientist.

Among the benefits and incentives a ‘Balik Scientist’ can enjoy include exemption from licensing or permitting requirements from the Professional Regulation Commission, accident and medical insurance coverage, reimbursement of baggage expenses related to scientific projects, and exemption from renouncing their oath of allegiance to the country where they took oath, among others.

Meanwhile, scientists who commit to long-term engagement program receive special relocation benefits, tax and duty exemption to importation of one motor vehicle, personal and household effects, and professional equipment, admission support to the preferred schools of their minor children, assistance in securing job opportunities for their spouses, and monthly housing or accommodation allowance.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), one of the implementing agencies of BSP, focuses on evaluating applicants for the health R&D sector. Since 2007, PCHRD was able to engage with 82 Balik Scientist specializing in various fields such as biochemistry, neuroscience, microbiology, and others.

Through this law, DOST and PCHRD hopes that more scientist will be encouraged to return and help aid the country in improving our S&T agenda through research and innovation.