MANILA -- Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña on Wednesday expressed the need for the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) to conduct more research that would address health-related concerns.

Speaking at the “Enhancing the Public’s Level of Awareness on HIV/AIDS through Digitized Arts” forum that the NRCP organized, dela Peña said the NRCP has other concerns to address apart from issues about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

He said the NCRP needs to focus on researches in other health-related concerns such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, mental health and child labor.

"We have researches that are related to drugs, but these are more on hard science like the analysis and traceability of drugs," dela Peña said.

"There are those (street children) sniffing rugby. I think we should already pay attention to that concern because they are increasing in number," he said, adding that sniffing solvents has a negative effect on health.

Dela Pena also touched on the issue about teenage pregnancy, which he said could lead to "bigger problems" if not addressed.

"When these girls get pregnant at an early age, most likely, they would stop schooling. If they are not supported by the child's father, that could lead to bigger problems," he told NRCP members during the forum.

Mental illness is another issue that the DOST chief said he would like the NRCP to focus on.

"We know there is a rising incidences of mental illnesses, depression even among students. Many have shown suicidal tendencies," he said.

Dela Peña also said he also wants research works dealing with child labor, which he described as "somewhat health-related".

"This has been a long-running concern. There many effects (of child labor) on children, but I am more concerned on its health effects on them," he said.

NRCP president Ramon Razal told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that "the more agencies involved, the better, as this will help orchestrate efforts in addressing problems".

"More agencies will (work for a) concerted effort towards addressing health-related issues," he said.

He added that apart from the NRCP, other agencies such as the Department of Health, Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education, could also work on efforts to address health-related issues.

A DOST-attached agency, the NRCP has 4,327 members composed of scientists and researchers across the country.

The NRCP is mandated to promote and support basic and problem-oriented researches, as well as provide solutions to national issues. (PNA)