Focus must parallel health reform efforts

Published by rudy Date posted on April 19, 2009

Problem is not that we have too few health research work.

“DYNAMIC, realistic, responsive, and relevant.”

This is what health research in the Philippines should be, according to Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

In the face of significant health problems and limited resources, the country needs to set clear health priorities, he says, especially with development dynamics ushered by globalization, migration and advances in information technology.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd says that the country’s problem is not that our country has too few research works and projects.

“Our dilemma is that, on the little that we have, we focus on efforts that do not run parallel with health and other social sector reforms,” he says.

Putting the country’s blurry health research efforts into focus is the Philippine National Health Research Systems (PNHRS), which is pulling research organizations and networks together.

The PNHRS, created in 2002, is spearheaded by PCHRD and the Department of Health. Other agencies involved are the Commission on Higher Education and the University of the Philippines Manila-National Institutes of Health.

The PCHRD Governing Council is also the policy-making body of the PNHRS.

PNHRS is part of a global movement espoused by the Geneva-based Council on Health Research for Development to establish national health research systems in country settings.

PNHRS has set priorities in health research through the National Unified Health Research Agenda that complements global and national initiatives that impact on the Millennium Development Goals; the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan; the Framework for Health Reforms; and the Science and Technology Agenda.

In a research agenda setting, the PNHRS follows a bottom-up approach that makes it unique for several reasons:

• all regions in the country are involved in the consultations;

• regional representatives identify their region’s research priorities that also serve as the region’s guide in funding research projects;

• participants to consultations include technical experts, health professionals, representatives from public and private sectors and civil society;

• results of the consultations are elevated to the national level as input to the formulation of the national research agenda.

Priorities in health research, as stipulated in the NUHRA, include: health financing; governance; health regulations; health service delivery; health technology and development; health research ethics; and health information systems.

The Philippine Health Research Ethics Board, the highest policy-making body for ethics in health research ensures that all health researches conform to international ethical principles and standards that respect the sanctity of life and dignity of man. –SPECIAL REPORT: PHILIPPINE HEALTH RESEARCH, Manila Times

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