By Dhel Nazario
The Philippines has been cited among the few countries in the Health Evidence Network (HEN) Report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), that looks into the health research systems of different nations.
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de Peña mentioned this during the DOST Virtual Press Conference – R&D in the time of COVID-19 and Beyond on Monday.
The HEN is an information service for public health decision-makers in the WHO European Region, in action since 2003 and initiated and coordinated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe under the umbrella of the WHO European Health Information Initiative (a multi-partner network coordinating all health information activities in the WHO European Region).
HEN supports public health decision-makers to use the best available evidence in their own decision-making and aims to ensure links between evidence, health policies and improvements in public health.
In the publication, the country, along with Ireland, Rwanda and South Africa was said to have made important progress on formal policy statements or strategies in creating an effective health research system. It mentioned RA 10532 which institutionalizes the Philippine National Health Research System.
“In the Philippines, the 2013 Act Institutionalizing the Philippine National Health Research System and subsequent administrative order detailed how different NHRS elements should be implemented by the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Health,” it said.
“These documents described the membership, structure and role of key parts of the Philippine NHRS, including the governing council, coordinating body, steering committee, secretariat, NHRS network, agenda-setting arrangements, ethics board, research registry, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Similar legislative processes on the NHRS establishment and functions have also been followed in Sri Lanka and Thailand,” it added.
AmBisyon Natin 2040 was briefly cited as a 22-year vision for the Philippines which provided a framework within which to develop a long-term vision for the country’s health research. AmBisyon Natin 2040 represents the collective long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country in the next 25 years. DOST’s Harmonized Research Agenda R&D Agenda 2017-2022, the S&T research priorities for the next five years is anchored on this.
“In 2016, the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board accredited 48 research ethics committees and signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to protect the rights of indigenous people in health research,” the report said.
“PCHRD collaborated on priorities with the United States National Institutes of Health to create a platform for a coordinated approach to tuberculosis research, and with the United Kingdom’s MRC in a partnership involving infectious disease projects in institutions in both countries,” the report stated.
PCHRD efforts in the continuance of developing and discovering local drugs from natural products endemic to the country was also mentioned.
“Legislation was used as the policy approach in the Philippines to create a comprehensive NHRS strategy. The 2016 Annual Report of PCHRD described progress in the Philippines on many NHRS functions and components, including priority-setting, ethics, monitoring and evaluation, financing and the production and use of research,” the report said.