R&D council highlights value of social innovations in health

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

March 16 2018, 10:20 pm


MANILA -- The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) celebrated its 36th anniversary on Friday, noting the importance of social innovations in health.

In a program held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, PCHRD Director Jaime Montoya said the Council had chosen social innovations in health as this year’s celebration theme, since many outputs of social innovation would come from communities.

“We believe that communities are not only recipients of research results, but they could also be partners and sources of innovation,” he remarked.

DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña also noted that it is high time to talk about the role of social innovations from communities.

“(For our part), the DOST continues to enhance its capacity, and improve our infrastructure, the R&D (research and development) capabilities of our institutions, increase technology transfer, and strengthen its partnership with stakeholders,” Dela Peña said.

The DOST chief explained that social innovations in health may be in the form of making the healthcare system more affordable and accessible, especially in low-income areas and in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAS).

Social innovations also include identifying innovative healthcare solutions to prevent and control infectious diseases, he added.

Dela Peña emphasized that social innovation is a key to ensure that communities will benefit from health research.

Social innovation happens when communities participate in the research process to help find solutions to problems, he said.

“Social innovation not just engages communities, but empowers them to act and find solutions to their problems,” explained Dela Peña.

Among the recent achievements of the PCHRD are the implementation of the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) 2017-2022, its ICT in Health program, and support to more researchers.

NUHRA was created to identify, address, and improve on six main areas: responsive health systems; research to enhance and extend lives; holistic approach to health and wellness; health resiliency; global competitiveness and health innovation; and research and equity and health.

Montoya described the NUHRA as a guide for Filipino researchers to prioritize these areas. This will be the country’s template for health R&D efforts.

The ICT in Health program, on the other hand, is a system that supports frontline laboratory staff in identifying parasitic organisms in GIDA.

This program helps the PCHRD to monitor neglected tropical diseases, and improve policies and guidelines on disease control.

Montoya cited that with regard to the council’s support to researchers, it has invested in training and scholarships, and also helped its supported projects to get published in peer-reviewed journals. (PNA)