Addressing substance use among DOST's priority

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

June 15, 2021, 7:18 pm

<p>DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (<em>PNA file photo by Cristina Arayata</em>)</p>

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (PNA file photo by Cristina Arayata)

MANILA – Addressing the problem on substance use and abuse has been among the priorities of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), said Secretary Fortunato de la Peña on Monday.

Speaking at the National Substance Use Science Policy and Information forum, he said including this matter in the DOST's priorities will allow part of the agency's health research initiatives to be directed towards projects that may provide solutions to issues involving substance use and abuse.

The DOST and its partner institutions included addressing drug and alcohol abuse, as a priority research area under the National Unified Health Research Agenda for 2017 to 2022, as well as the National Mental Health Research Agenda 2019-2022, de la Peña continued.

"Part of our focus is to ensure the welfare of those who are undergoing rehabilitation and treatment due to substance use. We have partnered with the Department of Health to conduct research on the impact of community quarantine on persons who use drugs," he said.

Aside from that, the DOST also assisted the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in a workshop on mass metrology, which capacitated the latter's chemists and laboratory technicians in the accurate measurement of drug samples.

Additionally, the DOST-Industry Technology Development Institute helped in assessing the weight-measuring capabilities of PDEA laboratories and conducted proficiency testing among its personnel.

De la Peña said PDEA was the first to use the DOST's recently-launched Intelligent Data Analysis System (IDAS) -- an artificial intelligence-equipped system that predicts data analytic capabilities.

In terms of helping to build a pool of scientists, he said there are Balik Scientists who are focusing their works on mental health, wherein insights on substance use are being tackled.

"I hope more scientists will be involved, as we have strengthened our capacity to train more scientists, and put forward research and recommendations that are science and evidence-based, especially on mental health," the DOST chief commented.

De la Peña, meanwhile, assured the forum attendees that the DOST will always find means that will help alleviate those problems using scientific and ethically sound strategies. (PNA)