Six countries declare commitment to international collaboration for TB research during the 5th Annual Regional Prospective Observational Research in Tuberculosis (RePORT) Meeting hosted by the Philippines last September 17-19, 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.

Aiming to accelerate the adoption of research findings across regions, the RePORT International Consortia composed of Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and the Philippines shared important research results on tuberculosis prevalence, TB, HIV, and diabetes co-infections, multi-drug resistance, TB vaccine and medications, global TB biomarkers, and diagnostics in a three-day meeting attended by scientists, medical researchers, academicians, and health professionals.

Tuberculosis remains a global problem; no one country can solve it alone. With this meeting, we can bring countries to really tackle the impacts of TB,” said Mr. Carl Dieffenbach from the Division of AIDS, U.S. National Institutes of Health in his presentation about creation of a research portfolio in understanding the disease.

As the host of this year’s RePORT Meeting, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through Secretary Fortunato de la Pena expressed the importance of global initiatives to fight the TB epidemic, citing that the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) has been creating better solutions to fight TB through research and innovation.


National research strategies to fight the TB epidemic

The Philippines has the fourth highest burden of TB worldwide, and among the countries with the highest burden of multi-drug resistant TB. In the country’s National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) 2017-2022, communicable diseases such as tuberculosis are identified as one of the country’s health research priorities.

In 2018, the DOST-PCHRD has invested nearly 34 million pesos for TB research efforts in the country, one of which is the “Community-approach to Control and Halt Drug Resistant TB (COACH-DRTC),” a project aimed at promoting a multi-sectoral environment in reinforcing TB-control programs through local government collaborations.

The Council also supported the 2016 National Prevalence Survey which presented TB’s burden among Filipinos. It also identified ways to improve TB control and management as a step in alleviating the impacts of TB in the country.

More research programs and studies are still being supported by the Council to explore diagnostics, drug discovery, and impact assessment to fully understand and create necessary actions to lessen the burden of TB among Filipinos.


Global commitment to TB research collaboration

The three-day international meeting among the members of RePORT International was concluded with commitments to collaborate in TB research by initiating approaches to leverage huge cohort samples which will help nations in the existing process of clinical trials and the development of medications to prevent and treat TB.

Throughout the sessions, important research results and data from different countries were presented, with aims of creating a productive TB science discourse between the researchers and scientists in the meeting. Panel discussions also resulted to calls for tangible actions derived from the research results which will greatly determine the future of TB science in the global context.

Despite recognizing the barriers in terms of data sharing across countries, the delegates committed to participate and support all appropriate collaborations to advance TB research across all regions.

RePORT International is a cooperative strategy between nations established by the U.S. National Institutes of Health aimed at advancing regional TB science relevant in a global context through strengthening TB research capacity, infrastructure and research collaboration within countries.

Now on its 5th year, the RePORT International meeting is being held annually to update countries on the current status of TB science and create spaces to foster research collaboration to fight the impacts of TB worldwide.

Seven out of 35 researchers were recognized with the “Most Ready to Publish Paper” during the 16th Medical Writing Workshop for Young Researchers on 13-14 August 2019 at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City.

Held in conjunction with the 13th Philippine National Health Research System Week, the award was given to participants whose research papers are deemed by the facilitators as well-written, organized, and have the greatest potential for publishing in peer reviewed journals.

Winners from this batch are as follows: Dr. Maria Bettina Quiambao from Philippine General Hospital, Ms. Katherine Kyra Alonday from the University of Santo Tomas, Dr. Lara Gabrielle Lim from the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, Ms. Nicole Bolo from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Mr. Noriel Calaguas and Mr. John Mark De Vera from Holy Angel University, and Mr. Huemer Uy from Cebu Normal University.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, in partnership with the Philippine Association of Medical Journal Editors (PAMJE) and Asia Pacific Association of Medical Journal Editors (APAME), conducts the writing workshop twice every year to help young researchers in health sciences acquire practical knowledge and writing skills in developing scientific articles for publications in scholarly peer-reviewed journals.

Written by Catherine Joy Dimailig

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. dela Pena urged researchers, academe, private institutions and government to build on partnerships and solidarity to address the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) for the country during the 13th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week.

In line with the theme, “Achieving Health-Related Sustainable Development Goals through Research and Innovation,” Sec. dela Pena reiterated that although addressing the most pressing health concerns of the country is the commitment of the PNHRS and its consortia members, it is also relevant to contribute to the achievement of all the other SDGs through partnerships and collaborations.

In his message delivered by DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Guevara, the Secretary said that, "The importance of partnerships in achieving the SDG targets behooves on us to always keep an open mind, to be ready to accommodate new ideas from people or sectors which are not in our traditional circles while recognizing that we too can contribute to other sectors.”

He further explained the role of all the regional consortia as key in ensuring equity in research and development and in making sure that all the research outputs are utilized.

The 13th PNHRS Week covered various topics on health, health research, policy making and research dissemination with 22 sessions during its 4-day long celebration held at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, last August 13 to 16, 2019.

Written by Jwynne Gwyneth Macan

Members and representatives of the PNHRS Research Utilization Committee from the 17 regional health research and development consortia participated in the 13th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week pre-conference session, “Campaigning towards AIDS-free Society,” held last 13 August 2019 in Cagayan de Oro City.

Highlights of the morning session are discussions which aims to raise awareness on the growing HIV/AIDS concern in the country by developing effective information campaigns. Three notable speakers were invited to discuss HIV/AIDS research, share experiences in handling patients with HIV, and lecture on the skills and techniques in developing information campaigns.

Dr. Emmanuel Baja, a PCHRD Balik Scientist awardee from UP Manila, discussed his study on HIV Gaming, Engaging, and Testing. He shared that through his research, they were able to develop a mobile application, Battle in the Blood, which became a very powerful tool in advocating towards the elimination of stigma on HIV and encouraged people to get themselves tested for HIV. Dr. Baja emphasized that in campaigning towards a certain cause, people engagement is crucial to truly make them relate to the advocacy.

Dr. Bernadeth Gerodias, a psychologist at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, shared her experiences in handling patients suffering from HIV. She explained that professionals supporting patients living with HIV need to make space for their patients to process the emotional effect of their diagnosis, but not to make assumptions about what it means to them. Dr. Gerodias explained that because HIV’s psychological effects vary with every person, the approach into developing mental care and support for them also vary.

The discussion of Ms. Nini Santos, Consultant and Communication Expert from USAID STRIDE, underscores some of the strategies in developing information campaigns.  According to Ms. Santos, highlighting the mission in the content, exploring partnerships and engagements with different groups, and using appropriate channel for distribution are key elements into ensuring a successful campaign.

In the afternoon, the participants were grouped and assigned to work on their group’s campaign strategy applying all that they have learned during the morning session. After the workshop, the RUC held a business meeting to harmonize the RU Committee name and functions across the regions.

Written by Catherine Joy Dimailig

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