UP Baguio shares research and training expertise to aid Benguet’s pandemic recovery plans
Committed to its pivotal role as the national university in the North, the University of the Philippines Baguio shared its research and training expertise with the landlocked province of Benguet and its surrounding municipalities to develop its Covid-19 recovery and resiliency program.
UP Baguio was tapped by the non-governmental organization JV Ongpin Foundation, Inc. (JVOFI) as the latter carried out its initiative to ensure that Covid-19 recovery plans in Benguet are inclusive and responsive to the province’s SDG priorities.
The project involved the Benguet Provincial Government and the 13 municipal local government units of Atok, Bakun, Bokod, Bugulas, Itogon, Kabayan, Kapangan, Kibungan, La Trinidad, Mankayan, Sablan, Tba, and Tublay. This initiative was a follow-up to JVOFI’s prior initiative, “Mobilizing Investments and Community Participation in SDGs through GeoMapping in the Philippines.”
Through community workshops with the LGUs, UP Baguio shared information on Covid-19 research and provided technical assistance on GIS mapping of Covid-19 data.
UP Baguio helped identify the most affected sectors and their location, and the corresponding help extended to the communities through community workshops, research, and updating of Benguet’s SDG website.
The project was able to pinpoint SDGs that were addressed, namely: SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 8 (Decent Growth and Economic Growth). Likewise, the parties could identify gaps that need to be addressed.
These gaps include limited benefits/incentives for frontliners, limited capacities of parents and guardians to monitor/assist their children studying from home, little livelihood programs for the displaced employees, inadequate water and health services, and poor internet connectivity and communication infrastructure that hinder them from effectively responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
With the information generated by this project, Benguet is better equipped to develop a data-driven and evidence-based pandemic recovery program.
The promise of better care for patients with rare diseases
As the lead partner of the Department of Health (DOH) in the implementation of The Rare Diseases Act of the Philippines (RA10747), the University of the Philippines Manila National Institutes of Health (NIH) is at the forefront of building a comprehensive national program for this vulnerable group of children and adults suffering from rare diseases.
Along with UP Manila’s Institute of Human Genetics (IHG), NIH forms part of the technical working group composed of government and medical stakeholders that seek to address the need for timely and sustainable medical management of persons with rare diseases.
The NIH mobilized the technical working group via online meetings and conferences to draft the 2022-26 Strategic Plan for the Integrated Rare Disease Management Program (IRDMP), the first nationally-coodrinated effort to address rare diseases and provided optimum health outcomes for Filipinos suffering from them.
The plan is anchored on five key principles: 1) timely access, 2) comprehensive, integrative, and sustainable care, 3) evidence-based and responsive, 4) inclusive communication, and 5) enhanced collaboration.
It addresses the need for identifying, managing, and registering persons with Rare Diseases, including an effective referral system, to provide them with better access to support, treatment, and information.
Dr. Carmencita Padilla, UP Manila Chancellor and Founding Chair of the Philippine Society of Orphan Disorders, underscored the importance of networking with government and private stakeholders as well as the international community in achieving the goals for better health care.
“The path towards achieving the overall mission of the Rare Disease Law is not just a societal commitment. It is a commitment of the world to make sure that it is inclusive; that all patients around the world – 300 million patients with rare diseases – will be able to benefit from this policy.”
With a whole-of-society approach in carrying out its mandate in RA10747, NIH and IHG consulted with medical societies to prepare the list of the country’s priority rare diseases, which are often chronic, progressive, degenerative and life-threatening.
In the Philippines, a condition is considered rare when it affects one patient in every 20,000 population. With its technical expertise and multidisciplinary consultations, UP’s premier national health research center has initially identified 159 rare diseases and has submitted its list to the DOH. It is also developing a patient registry for rare diseases to facilitate the collection of observational data and research.
Pursuing research that transforms lives
Higher educational institutions have a unique role in transformational development. Universities bring a valuable contribution to society through research, public activity engagement, and training of their student body to become global citizens.
For the University of the Philippines, pursuing international collaboration with strategic partners is key to maximizing its contribution to addressing the global challenges outlined in the SDGs.
The University of the Philippines Manila, for example, leverages its valuable expertise in medical research and collaborated with Seattle-based global nonprofit organization PATH involving the human papillomavirus (HPV), a globally pervasive virus that can cause cervical cancer, the second leading cause of cancer in the Philippines.
While HPV vaccination has been rolled out in the Philippines since 2015, budget implications and affordability remain a significant challenge. As new vaccines enter the market offering different productive profiles and prices, countries now have more options about which vaccine is most appropriate for their communities. Thus, examining the potential health and economic impact of vaccine alternatives is crucial.
The results of UP Manila and PATH’s analysis of the cost-effectiveness of various vaccine strategies in the Philippines is determined to have contributed to the strengthening of the national capacity to develop evidence-based immunization policy decisions.
Spain’s Medico Sin Fronteras (MSF Spain) likewise collaborated with the Institute of Child Health of the UP Manila-National Institutes of Health, to predict disease severity in young children presenting acute febrile illness in resource-limited settings.
Specifically, the University was commissioned to set up a study site in two provincial hospitals in Cebu City to monitor about 900 subjects. The collaboration with UP provided MSF Spain with the local capacity to conduct its research as part of a multi-center study for scientific publication.
Optimizing health information key to universal health coverage
Public, private, and community-level health facilities and institutions collect tons of data via Routine Health Information Systems (RHIS).
The rich information that can be mined from these systems is essential in health planning and decision-making, encompassing various areas, including resource allocation, management decision-making and strategy development. Yet, many countries, including the Philippines, fail to maximize the potential of health information.
To help policymakers in the region make full use of the RHIS data to achieve Universal Health Coverage in Asia-Pacific, the World Health Organization collaborated with a team comprised of the University of Hong Kong, Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia and UP Manila.
UP Manila was specifically responsible for providing input into the study design and methodology as well as identifying stakeholders and interviewing national key informants for the study.
As the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of real-time health system information data to provide stakeholders with relevant data to make informed decisions, the WHO project intends to lay a foundation that supports future policy-making and research on the effective use of RHIS data.
Online conferences give a global platform for SDG discourse
Training the next generation to have a sustainability mindset calls for transdisciplinary approaches that will instill greater awareness of how global issues such as poverty, climate change, or food security are closely interconnected with daily activities.
The University of the Philippines provides a dynamic venue for exchanging ideas, collaboration, and capacity-building through its cross-sectoral conferences and seminars, which moved online during the pandemic.
Organizing events online has allowed the University to reach a broader base of local and global audiences, says UP President, Prof. Danilo L. Concepcion.
UP Baguio, for instance, raised the voice of the indigenous peoples of Cordillera via a virtual conference on Cordillera studies.
“Indigenous Peoples are vital partners in the implementation of the SDGs. Conferences such as the International Conference on Cordillera Studies are valuable platforms for enlightened discussions, the presentation of data and research results, and most importantly, the sharing of experiences, struggles, and lessons learned,” Concepcion said.
UP Los Baños centered discussions on food management and agribusiness disruptions during the Global Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship Conference held in November 2021.
The conference was spearheaded by the Department of Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship of the College of Economics and Management, in partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), and CEM Alumni Foundation, Inc. (CEMAFI).
Representatives from international agencies, NGOs, and industry and farmers’ associations exchanged ideas with academics, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to tackle disruptions affecting the agribusiness and micro, small, and medium enterprises sector and possible strategies to attain growth and sustainability.
In another conference, the University gathered stakeholders from around the world to exchange ideas and share the latest information on disruptive innovations in food and nutrition.
The Institute of Human Nutrition and Food, College of Human Ecology, organized and hosted the 3rd Southeast Asian Conference on Econutrition in May 2021. The conference identified emerging technology innovations that can profoundly impact food systems, food security, and nutrition to help achieve UN SDGs.
More on UP and the SDGs
UP and the Sustainable Development Goals
Message from the President
Green UP: A UP System Action Plan for Environmental Sustainability
UP at a Glance
UP on Good Health and Well-Being
UP on Quality Education
UP on Gender Equality
UP on Sustainable Cities and Communities
UP on Climate Action