Archive for July 2011
The Asian Pacific Organization for Cell Biology Congress (APOCB) held its 6th International Congress last February 25-28, 2011, at the EDSA Shangri-La, Mandaluyong City.
With the theme “Challenges in Cell Biology: Health, Agriculture, Industry and Education”, the APOCB congress brought together educators, postgraduate and post doctoral researchers, students, and experts in cell biology to talk about the latest advances and state-of-the-art technologies in cell biology and their impact on the various fields of medicine, plant and animal sciences, biotechnology and education.
The event featured eleven plenary lectures from well-known experts on a diverse range of topics: cell biology, molecular biology, drug discovery, emerging technologies and issues in biosafety and biobanking.
During the opening ceremonies last February 26, Dr. Nobutaka Hirokawa, President of the APOCB, highlighted the significance of cell biology in his message, “Cell biology is the core of the life sciences — molecular biology, structural biology, biophysics, and systems biology. And it does not only cover the basic science but also covers applied science such as pharmaceutical science, clinical medicine, and agricultural science.
In his keynote address, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo shared about the initiatives of the DOST in support of cell biology R&D, “This year, we are going to launch new policy and program initiatives on drug discovery, stem cell and genomics. The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) has already proposed for the creation of the Drug Discovery and Diagnostics Development Program which aims to establish and sustain the country’s capability in drug discovery and diagnostics development through collaborative research and building human, institutional and economic capacity.”
Prior to the plenary lectures, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the opening of the poster and commercial exhibits. Rachel Ann Doreen D. Nadal, PCHRD
“We will stop dengue incidence in the province now,” said Leyte Governor Jericho L. Petilla, during the launching of the Ovicidal and Larvicidal (OL) mosquito trap in Balyuan Convention Center, Tacloban Leyte on 19 February 2011.
The OL mosquito trap is a technology developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) designed to reduce the population of the dengue-carrying “Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus” mosquitoes by attracting and killing their eggs in a simple but proven effective system. This technology will be distributed nationwide in cooperation with the Department of Health (DOH).
“We are more than willing to put this trap in every household especially in those areas with high prevalence of dengue,” said Governor Petilla, as he cited that Leyte was one of the most affected provinces in the country.
The Governor also encouraged his fellow officials and local constituents to be involved and not to wait until they become victims of the disease. “We should be very careful, that people might think that this OL mosquito trap is the all-out solution, this is only a mitigation technique. It is very important to involve ourselves in this endeavor and be responsible to clean our surroundings to protect ourselves against dengue,” Governor Petilla concluded.
Meanwhile, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, thanked DOST and DOH for choosing Tacloban as the first recipient of this innovative technology. “The trap would be a big help to lower the incidence of dengue in our locality,” said Mayor Romualdez.
According to the DOH Region VIII, Eastern Visayas recorded more than 5,000 dengue cases and 65 deaths in the first six months of 2010. More than one fourth of the cases came from Tacloban with 1,194 cases. Eighty-five percent of the victims were children less than 12 years old.
“We don’t want to see anymore dead children because of this scary disease, we will do all to protect our children,” declared Mayor Romualdez.
He also stated that the local government of Tacloban will allocate funds to buy extra OL mosquito trap kit to distribute to all houses specially the identified high dengue risk areas.
DOST and DOH will distribute 2,800 kits to each of the 16 regions of the country. National Capital Region (NCR) will get a separate allocation of 5,200 OL mosquito trap kits.
Among the local officials who graced the ceremonial distribution of OL mosquito traps were Dr. Jose L. Bacusmo, President of Visayas State University (VSU), Ms. Erlinda Olivia P. Tiu, Regional Director of Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Dr. Edgardo Gonzaga, Regional Director of DOH-VIII, Engr. Edgardo Esperancilla, Regional Director of DOST –VIII and barangay officials. Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD
In 2010, DOH recorded 98,934 dengue cases with 644 deaths from January to September alone. The cases have doubled compared to the entire 2009 cases with a total of 57,819.
This is the reason why DOH concluded that 2010 is the year of living “dengue-rously,” where dengue took center stage as the most prevailing health issue in the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considered dengue as one of the fastest-emerging infections in the world that, despite decades of research, there is no effective drug or vaccine ever developed.
Meanwhile, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) introduced an alternative to address the alarming dengue situation in the country. This is the DOST Ovicidal and Larvicidal (OL) mosquito trap, a low cost yet effective device designed to reduce the population of the dengue-carrying “Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus” mosquitoes by attracting and killing their eggs in a simple but effective science-based system.
Dr. Lilian de las Llagas, OL trap technical consultant and mosquito expert from the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) said that, “In order to appreciate how OL mosquito trap works and understand how dengue virus spreads, it is important to understand the life cycle of the female dengue-carrying Aedes mosquitoes.”
Basically, female mosquito has three major chores: To mate with the male mosquito, sip blood of human victim and lay eggs.
“When we talk about the transmission of dengue virus, male mosquito has no significance at all except for reproductive purposes,” said Dr. de las Llagas. After mating with the male mosquito, female mosquito starts to hunt a human victim to supply her blood meal from sunrise to sunset. “This is the reason why dengue virus is not transmitted after six o’clock because Aedes mosquito bites only at daytime,” added Dr. de las Llagas.
Dr. de las Llagas warned that among the favorites of mosquitoes are children who are smelly and wet with sweat, but this does not mean that mosquitoes are selective. No one is exempted from mosquito’s bites. A female mosquito needs to bite at least three human victims in order to complete her blood meal. This leads to virus transmission. Every time an infected mosquito bites, it transfers the virus.
When blood meal is satisfied or completed, the female mosquito lays her eggs. This is the time the OL mosquito trap performs its functions to impede mosquitoes’ regeneration.
The OL mosquito trap system is designed to attract female mosquitoes to lay its eggs on the trap. Basically, the black paint or black container lures the female mosquitoes. Also, the strip of wet “lawanit” board inside the trap creates optimum condition that adds up to the level of attraction for female mosquitoes.
The scientific principle behind this technology is that mosquitoes preferred to lay their eggs in dark colored containers. “This is not actually a new technology,” said Dr. de las Llagas. “This fact has been known since 1969.”
What is new about the OL mosquito trap is the natural ovicide and larvicide incorporated to the system. These are pellets in form, made from organic compounds derived from plants. These pellets contain non-toxic substances safe to human. However, when they are incorporated to the system they become ovicidal and larvicidal. The word “cidal” connotes death. “So once the egg touches the solution it will die. If the egg hatches, the larvae will die, its larvae will not become pupa, its pupa will not become adult and no adult to lay eggs,” said Dr. de las Llagas.
The technology is also easy to manage. It is a “set and forget” principle. Set the trap, put it on dump and undisturbed areas or in the suspected areas where mosquitoes are hiding, then forget about it, because the trap itself kills the eggs or the larvae.
If a single female mosquito lays 100 eggs in the trap, this means you trap 100 eggs to become adults in several days, and you prevent 100 mosquitoes to bite approximately 300 human victims at the average of three human victims in every complete blood meal. “It is a simple arithmetic in terms of natural mosquito reduction by simply putting this trap. The more traps, the better,” said D. de las Llagas. Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD
January 24, UP Manila – To implement the provision on ownership of intellectual property of the “Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009” or RA 10055, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) formally signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) on January 24, 2011 at Alvior Hall, College of Medicine, UP Manila.
The MOA with PCHRD-DOST officially marked the turn-over of entitlement on intellectual property for medicinal plant products and related processes to UPM.
Dr. Reynaldo Garcia, Director of Technology Licensing Office of the UP System shared what he felt was the impact on research in the University of Republic Act. No. 10055 and discussed the challenge of technology commercialization.
“Commercializing a new technology rapidly is crucial to gain competitive advantage in this age of globalization. From identifying potential technologies, securing funding, working with R&D institutions, filing intellectual property, to producing and marketing products, there are a lot of gaps to be filled. Our focus now is to efficiently transfer our research results and knowledge to the marketplace.” said Dr. Garcia.
Ms. Merlita Opeña, Chief of Research, Information and Communication Utilization Division (RICUD) of PCHRD assured UPM the continuing support of PCHRD.
“As you strengthen your corporate and administrative systems to enable UP Manila to be in a better position to handle this challenging role of setting up technology-based businesses, the DOST and the PCHRD, in particular, is very close behind you, and will lend you a helping hand.” said Ms. Opeña.
The Republic Act 10055 or the “Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009” aims to promote and facilitate the transfer, dissemination, and effective use, management, and commercialization of intellectual property, technology and knowledge resulting from R&D funded by the government for the benefit of national economy and taxpayers. Rachel Ann Doreen D. Nadal, PCHRD
The Zonta Club Philippines, an international woman’s organization receives the OL mosquito trap during its ceremonial distribution held in Tuguegarao City. The Club vows support to the OL mosquito trap program of the government. In this Photo: Atty. Mila Lauigan, Zonta District Chair for Legislative Awareness and Advocacy (center), Dr. Urdujah A. Tejada, Regional Director of DOST Region 2 (4th from left), Dr. Nuna E. Almanzor, Director of Industrial Technology Development Institute of DOST (3rd from right) and Zonta Club Members
The second leg of the national roll-out of the Ovicidal Larvicidal (OL) mosquito trap program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Health (DOH) was held at the Kamaranan Hall, Provincial Capitol Tuguegarao City on 7 March 2011.
“This is the right time to center our attention to this innovative technology,” said Dr. Urdujah A. Tejada, Regional Director of DOST Region 2. “Given the fact that the dengue cases are increasing all over the country, the National Dengue Prevention and Control Section of DOH, advised that the best way to control this dengue-carrying Aedes mosquitoes is to kill them at the early stage of their lives or through larval source reduction strategies – which is basically the design of the OL mosquito trap,” added Dr. Tejada.
The OL mosquito trap is a tool used to reduce the population of the dengue-carrying “Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus” mosquitoes by attracting the female mosquito to lay eggs on an ordinary black-plastic or black-painted tin-can with ovicide/larvicide that kills the mosquito egg and larvae.
The provincial government of Cagayan responded positively and ensured its support to the program. “Health is our priority in Cagayan,” said Cagayan Provincial Administrator Engr. Tito Perlas, representative of Cagayan Governor Alvaro Antonio.
The DOH has recorded more than 6000 dengue cases with 57 deaths in the region in 2010. The cases increased to 169 percent compared to the cases recorded in 2009. “This caused panic among us, because Cagayan has the highest incidence of dengue among other provinces,” said Engr. Perlas. “That is why we are grateful to the people behind this innovative technology. This will be a big help to our local folks in fighting dengue,” Engr. Perlas concluded.
The OL mosquito traps were distributed to the high risks areas in the region last 8 March 2011 in cooperation with the DOST Region 2, DOH Region 2, Local Government Unit and the Zonta Club of Central Tuguegarao.
Private Sector’s Response
The Zonta Club Philippines, an international woman’s organization, vows support to the OL mosquito trap program of the government.
“We are committed to elevate the status of women and children in the communities. Part of this commitment is to protect them from dangerous diseases like dengue, that is why we vow to include this OL mosquito trap technology in our advocacies,” said Atty. Mila Lauigan, Zonta District Chair for Legislative Awareness and Advocacy. “We can also use our connections to promote this technology because we have members who are holding vital positions in the government and in private sector. They could be a big help to promote OL mosquito trap in their own organizations or group,” assured Atty. Lauigan in an interview.
The group also committed to promote the technology in their seminars and allocate budget to buy “pellets” (the ovicidal and larvicidal component of the system) to be distributed in the remote areas covered by their organization.
Academe to bring OL Traps to communities
The academe will dovetail dengue information awareness campaigns in its research and extension program and bring down to the barangay level the technology.
According to Ms. Edmelyn Cacayon, Dean of the College of Nursing, Isabela State University (ISU), “We have community immersion programs, where we adopt a barangay to help increase not only their awareness or knowledge on health but to improve their status of living as a whole.”
ISU adopted Brgy. Villa Fermin in Echague, Isabela and send their nursing students twice a week to conduct lectures and seminars in the community. “We let our students experience and see the real world of service because nurses are not meant for hospitals only but for community service as well,” said Ms. Cacayon.
Brgy. Villa Fermin is a dumpsite in Echague, Isabela. Among the prevailing health issues in the barangay are malnutrition, sanitation and improper waste disposal, making the community highly vulnerable to diseases.
Aside from lectures and seminars, ISU introduced strategies to address these health problems. For instance, the College of Nursing coordinated with the College of Agriculture to bring the technologies for vegetable farming/gardening to the community. ISU trained the community to produce vegetables in response to the nutrition issues. “The good thing is, we help them get nourished and at the same time, earn extra income from their harvest,” said Ms. Cacayon.
ISU also taught proper sanitation practices and proper waste disposal, and launched an anti-dengue awareness campaign reiterating that “cleanliness and proper sanitation” is the key to disease prevention and control in the community.
“With these simple things, we bring big impact to the community, because we as health professionals served not only those people who have money but, most importantly, those who are in the far flung communities that are usually neglected,” concluded Ms. Cacayon.
ISU Director for Health Services Dr. Pastor Lopez also said in an interview that ISU envisions to put-up station clinics in the barangays. “We don’t want to see children dying not only because of dengue but also with other diseases, without being checked by the professionals,” Dr. Lopez added.
Aside from ISU, University of Cagayan Valley (UCV) formerly known as Cagayan Colleges Tugegarao (CCT), Quirino State College (QSC) and Nueva Viscaya State University (NVSU) will also align a dengue prevention information campaign through its National Service Training Program (NSTP). Under the NSTP’s Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS), students participate in a community campaign against dengue called “Operation Tumba.” “Tumba” means to destroy all possible habitats for dengue mosquitoes.
Dr. Gregoria Gocal, Director for Community Extension and Services of UCV admitted in an interview, that they spray commercial insecticide every week in their classrooms to secure their students against mosquito bites. “We will definitely shift to this new OL mosquito trap system, not only because it is cheaper. The OL trap is easy to manage, harmless to human and, most importantly environment-friendly,” Dr. Gocal concluded. Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD
Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) celebrated its 29th year anniversary with the theme “Challenges and Innovations in Local Health Technologies” at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila last March 18, 2011.
In his opening message, DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo expressed his appreciation on PCHRD’s anniversary theme, “I am pleased to note that your anniversary theme this year focuses on local health technologies, which is aligned with the present administration’s advocacy. We believe in our people. We believe that local technology works.”
He further emphasized, “We will be prioritizing and supporting the development of affordable diagnostic kits, quality pharmaceutical products using our local resources and the development of traditional Filipino medicine…But we need to work together as a purpose driven team.”
Assistant Secretary Nemesio T. Gako of the Department of Health (DOH) delivered Secretary Enrique T. Ona’s message for the occasion. In his message, Sec. Ona pointed out that challenges and opportunities for technology innovation and health research abound in two areas of the Universal Health Care’s (UHC) strategic thrusts — ensuring access and quality in health facilities and attainment of health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“The challenge is to scale up with more resources (human), funding and support systems or infrastructures especially in far-flung areas. Innovations in drugs and vaccines to support treatment interventions for our key MDG-identified diseases such as HIV, Malaria, and TB are resource-heavy and equally compete for our scarce health budget.” he said.
Keynote speaker Dr. Reynaldo L. Garcia, Professor from the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of the University of the Philippines Diliman, identified the challenges on diversifying drug discovery programs in the country.
“First, we always end up with drug-like compounds and then we don’t pursue them further. Second, researchers keep taking on “new projects” all the time and we never pursue our initial results. The third challenge is we don’t have expertise in lead optimization and we don’t have medicinal chemists.” he said.
As a take home message to the participants, Dr. Garcia stressed, “We need to diversify and scale up. We should be aware that the attrition rate is very high and many of the things we are working on right now are going to fail. The other thing is to plan what to do next, because obviously we would have drug candidates sooner than later and we have to know what to do with them. We should also strategize our drug discovery approach. We should consider partnering; it is about sharing the risk. Lastly, it is important to have a change in mindset. Be more innovative and be more commercial.”
In the panel discussion, experts highlighted the drug development situation in the Philippines in terms of clinical research, ethics, clinical trials regulation, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The panelists included Ms. Linda Grace Mendoza, President of the Philippine Clinical Research Professionals, Inc., Dr. Cecilia V. Tomas, Chair of the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB) Subcommittee on Accreditation, Dr. Suzette Lazo, Director IV of the Food and Drug Administration, and Mr. Epifanio Rey Evasco, Director IV of the Bureau of Patents, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.
The panel discussion was followed by two breakout sessions covering PCHRD-supported researches on infectious and non-infectious diseases. Session 1 tackled Dengue and Leptospirosis while Session 2 focused on Aging and Memory and Renal Disease. Rachel Ann Doreen D. Nadal, PCHRD
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Project for Children has reported that malnutrition is associated with more than half of all less than 5 years old children’s deaths worldwide. According to the report, undernourished children are more likely to die from common childhood ailments – some will survive but have recurring sicknesses and growth problems.
The Philippines is not spared in this global endemic nutrition problem. In fact, the 2008 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) revealed that among 0-5 year old children, three out of 10 are underweight and under-height.
DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said that the increasing number of malnourished children in the Philippines is associated to poor feeding practices due to mother’s lack of knowledge or awareness on proper nutrition and sanitation, lack of access to potable water and severe poverty. “This served as basis for DOST to embark on a project entitled Science and Technology-based Interventions to Address Malnutrition dubbed as Sulong Pinoy Program - aimed to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition among children not only in the cities but most especially in the remote and far flung communities in the provinces,” added Secretary Montejo.
“The program has three project components: production and technology transfer of the FNRI complementary snack foods; development of nutrition intervention strategy (DOST PINOY Model); and technology generation for the production of multi-nutrient growth mix,” said FNRI Director Dr. Mario Capanzana.
For the first component, the protein-rich food technologies developed by FNRI such as the Rice-Mongo blend, Rice-Mongo-Sesame, and Rice-Mongo Curls will be produced for the complementary feeding to address the nutrient deficiency among malnourished children. These technologies are also ready for commercialization to interested private entrepreneurs. The FNRI-DOST will provide technical assistance to Local Government Units (LGUs), Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and private organizations who are interested to produce these food products for livelihood purposes.
The second component of the program is the DOST PINOY Model, where PINOY stands for Package for the Improvement of Nutrition for Young Children. This component is a customized package of nutrition modules to empower the Barangays Health Workers (BHWs) and Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNSs) in educating the mothers to practice breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding using the FNRI complementary food blends and snack foods.
“We feed the child simultaneously with their mother’s mind,” said Dr. Capanzana. “In this component, DOST will provide the supply of supplementary foods for 120-day feeding cycle to the initially identified 1000 (0-5) year old children from the nutritionally depressed communities of Iloilo, Leyte, Antique and Occidental Mindoro – the identified provinces with high prevalence of underweight children based on the 2008 National Nutrition Survey.”
The third component of the project is the undergoing R&D effort to fortify the food products (Rice-Mongo blend, Rice-Mongo-Sesame, and Rice-Mongo Curls) with Vitamin A, iron, iodine, zinc and folic acid. The project also aimed to produce a multi-nutrient growth mix using fruits and vegetables in a ready-to-use sachet that can be used to fortify the ordinary “lugaw” with vitamins and mineral and complement the protein and energy-dense blend formulation of the three introduced products as well.
“Along with the existing community-based nutrition education effort being implemented by various government agencies, non-government organizations and private organizations, malnutrition in the country would be lessened if not eliminated,” Dr. Capanzana added. Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD
“22 out of 1000 detainees tested positive for TB,” said Dr. Maridel Borja, professor in the College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila and principal investigator of the study Prevalence of Bacteriologically Confirmed Pulmonary Tuberculosis among Prisoners and Jail Officers in Selected Prisons in the Philippines.
The study aimed to determine the baseline magnitude of active tuberculosis (TB) in some prisons in the country, determine the prevalence of multi-drug resistant TB, and determine the knowledge, attitudes, practices and behavioral intentions of inmates and jail officers regarding the deadly disease.
TB is a contagious disease that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or spits. If left untreated, a single person with active TB disease can infect an average of 10-15 people every year according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, “The infection rate is different in high population density areas like prisons, which is expected to be higher, compared to general population,” clarifies Dr. Borja. “That is why this study is very important not only for the implementers of TB prevention and control program in the country but also to the prisoners and jail officers to be aware whether they are already infected with the disease or not.”
Subjects of the study were randomly selected from Antipolo City Jail, Cebu City Jail, Correction Institution for Women, Davao City Jail, Manila City Jail, Metro Manila District Jail, and National Bilibid Prison.
Out of the 2,450 respondents, there were 1204 inmates that are TB suspects. “These are the respondents either symptomatic and/or had chest x-ray results suggestive of TB,” Dr. Borja explained. However, only twenty five among these suspects confirmed positive in the direct smear sputum test (DSSM).
The study also determined the prevalence of multi-drug resistant TB, where prisoners with DSSM and culture positive results are subjected to drug susceptibility test (DST) for Streptomycin, Isoniazid, Rifampicin, Ethambutol, Kanamycin, Ofloxacin and Levofloxacin.
Results showed that twenty two (73%) were sensitive to all drugs, three cases (10%) were multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), four cases (13%) were mono-resistant, one (3%) was poly-resistant, eight (27%) were resistant to at least one drug, while four (13%) were resistant to at least two drugs.
The study also noted that the majority of the respondents are not aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease and exhibit attitudes such as stigmatism, fatalism and perceived inaccessibility of health care. Thus, the study recommends further campaign to increase awareness and knowledge among prisoners and jail officers about TB.
On the other hand, in order to minimize the incidence of TB transmission, the study recommends improving the jail facilities to lessen over-crowding and maintain the recommended number of inmates per cell.
The study suggests further to review the guidelines in discharging and releasing prisons with positive TB. “There should be an established referral system – where the currently under-medication prisoner-for-release would be referred to an outside facility to continue the treatment or medication. This also serves as preventive measure for the relatives, friends and neighbors not to get infected by the disease,” said Dr. Borja.
This study is a collaborative effort of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), World Health Organization (WHO), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Philippine Tuberculosis Society (PTS), Department of Health (DOH) and the College of Public Health University of the Philippines Manila (CPH-UPM). Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD
DOST Secretary Mario Montejo (front left) shakes hand to Secretary Enrique Ona (front right) of Department of Health during the signing of memorandum of understanding held in Quezon City. Also in this photo are (at the back from left to right) PCHRD Director Dr. Jaime Montoya, ITDI Director Dr. Nuna Almanzor, Dr. Lillian de Las Llagas of University of the Philippines Manila and Dr. Eduardo Janairo of DOH-NCDPC
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Health (DOH) ink partnership to strengthen healthcare delivery in the country through the signing of two Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the national rollout of the ovicidal and larvicidal (OL) mosquito trap system for Aedes mosquito and the institutionalization of the National Telehealth Service Program (NTSP).
“This is just the first among the series of collaborations we have with the DOH,” DOST Secretary Mario Montejo informed the media during the press conference following the MOU signing in Quezon City on 14 April 2011. “We are geared to prioritize the OL mosquito trap to address the increasing dengue cases that threatens the lives of our people, specially the children,” added Secretary Montejo.
In 2010, the Philippines experienced the worst outbreak of dengue, almost reaching the epidemic level.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona warned the public that the country may be witnessing a far worse outbreak this year because of the early dramatic peak in the number of cases recorded for the first two months of 2011. However, Secretary Ona said, the “DOST OL mosquito trap is a timely intervention that can help DOH campaign to control and reduce the dengue incidence in the country.”
Meanwhile, the Director of the Industrial Technology and Development Institute (ITDI) of DOST, Dr. Nuna Almanzor, has reported that the DOST and DOH regional directors are currently coordinating for the national roll-out of the OL mosquito trap. “In fact, there were seven Regions that have launched already. These are the Regions VIII, II, VI, VII, IX, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region X, while Region IV-B is scheduled to launch today in Palawan,” said Dr. Almanzor.
On the other hand, the institutionalization of the national telehealth service program is part of the strategy of the government to address universal healthcare using information and communication technology (ICT) in delivering healthcare especially to remote and underserved areas.
The program aims to widen the healthcare services of the government by reaching the remote and far-flung communities characterized as geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) through the NTSP.
One of the medical devices in NTSP is the RxBox, a computer system that can be used to measure the patient’s heart rate, Electrocardiograph (ECG), pulse rate and blood oxygenation. It stores data and send via wired or wireless network. The machine also has a probe camera to capture and send images of the patient’s body parts for examination while the video conferencing feature enables doctors from different locations to consult each other for medical diagnosis purposes.
“This technology is intended to respond to the healthcare needs of the people who have no adequate access to quality health professionals and facilities. As of today, there are machines already deployed for field testing and communication protocols system enhancement,” said Secretary Montejo.
Secretary Montejo further declared that these projects proved that the government is serious in upgrading its capabilities in providing effective yet affordable healthcare services for the Filipino people. “That is why we, at the science community, are continuously looking for possibilities to meet today’s challenges through research and development (R&D). I know we still have a long way to go, but I’m proud to say that we are on the right track.” Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD
Studies show evidences that shift-work or working on shift hours has implications to workers’ well-being or health.
According to the study conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), working on shift hours may increase the risks of psychosomatic disorders of the gastrointestinal tract (colitis, gastroduodenitis, and peptic ulcer), cardiovascular disorders (hypertension, ischaemic heart diseases) and even cancer among shift-workers.
“This may be explained by the disruption of the circadian system that is caused by exposure to light at night that can alter sleep-activity patterns, suppress melatonin production, and deregulate genes involved in tumor development,” the IARC study further cited.
The human body is synchronized to a night and day pattern known as circadian or the body’s endogenous “biological” clock. This is a certain part of the brain that monitors the amount of light entering the body from time to time.
In the evening, when the light starts to wane, the body clock notices and prompts a flood of brain chemicals called melatonin, and signals the body to fall asleep. Overnight, melatonin levels remain high and drop at daybreak and remain low during the day.
At daytime, chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as noradrenaline and acetylcholine increase and keep the body awake. This system keeps the body synchronized affecting some body functions including temperature, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure.
Another study conducted by the School of Medicine and the Veterans Affair Healthcare System (SMVAHS) at the University of California has reported that continuous distracted sleeping pattern will lead to sleep deprivation that might adversely affect the brain and cognitive functions.
“Shift-work is not a new concept among Filipinos,” said Professor Gayline F. Manalang of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila during the 3rd PhilSHIFT colloquium held in UP Manila. “It is already been a practice in health care and manufacturing industries. However, this time, public awareness focuses on the call center industry or the business process outsourcing (BPO) industries in the Philippines because of the increasing number of individuals it employ, the encouragement the industry received from the government and its economic impact to the country. Given the alleged health related risks of shift-works to shift workers, this would be an aspect of interest begging for study.”
According to Professor Maria Eliza Ruiz Aguila from the College of Allied Medical Professions of UP Manila, “It is important to conduct a locally designed study to determine the chronotype of the Filipinos, that through research, we can devise strategies to take advantage of inter-individual variability on chronotype to improve the individual’s well being, performance and productivity without increasing the health risks.”
Professors Manalang and Aguila are both members of PhilSHIFT, a group of experts in the Philippines undergoing studies on the effects of shift-work to the health and wellness of shift-working Filipinos.
The PhilSHIFT is an interdisciplinary group that brings together the researchers from the College of Allied Medical Professions, College of Public Health and College of Medicine of the UP Manila and the Munich Institute of Medical Psychology of the Ludwig Maximillians University in Germany.
PhilSHIFT is currently populating a database on chronotypes of non-shift workers in the Philippines through an online survey using the Philippine Munich Chronotype Questionnaire (http://www.bioinfo.mpg.de/thewep/). This questionnaire is derived from the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire (MCTQ) and specifically tailored for Filipinos.
The information that will be gathered from the online survey will be the basis of the succeeding stages of the PhilSHIFT researches and will be used to investigate the characteristics of the circadian clock of shift workers in the Philippines. Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD