#NHRFA16: Stronger health research translation in PH seen

From left to right: UNICEF’s Dr. Rene Gerard Galera Jr., Mr. Arturo Ongkeko, Jr., DOH Health Research Division Chief Dr. Beverly Ho, NTHC Director Dr. Portia Fernandez-Marcelo, and Dr. James Salisi


“We are committed to usher the golden age of health research (in the Philippines),” said Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial during the 16th  National Health Research Forum for Action (NHRFA) held in Pasay City on September 16, 2016. By providing support, resources, and easier access to health data, Sec. Ubial foresees a change in the health research landscape that will be felt by policymakers, researchers, and the Filipino people in general.

Sec. Ubial said that the DOH will capitalize on the current administration’s strong political will to ensure the delivery of universal health care to all Filipinos. This is through the Duterte Health Agenda, also known as the Philippine Health Agenda.  Sec. Ubial promised to couple the health agenda with a research agenda by giving more funding to health research, eliminating red tape in health research, “considering research as oil to gears of health bureaucracy,” and supporting budding researchers.

While protecting patient privacy, data for health research will also be made more accessible, following the president’s Executive Order on Freedom of Information. According to Sec. Ubial, DOH will strive for embeddedness of research into policymaking and vice versa.  “Home-grown research provides context, specific solutions, and helps us become more accountable to the people we serve. Indeed, for something as important as health research, there can be no room for limits or constraints,” she added.

With the theme, Laying the Foundation for Stronger Research Translation, the 16th NRHFA tackled the important relationship between health research, policy development, and discourse. Panel presentations were divided into two – knowledge translation, which covered researches that successfully bore actual policies, and mining and visualization of data, which highlighted researches that innovatively used available data despite various limitations.  Participatory breakout sessions about access to big data and health researchers’ needs were also conducted.

Research abstracts from the National Telehealth Center on both aspects of knowledge translation were part of an exhibit during the forum. These were “Formulating the National Policy on Telehealth for the Philippines through Stakeholders’ Involvement and Partnership with lead author Dr. Portia Fernandez-Marcelo, “Use of Visual Analytics Tools in Increasing the Data Demand and Information Use among Key Local Leaders in Selected Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas” with lead author Mr. Arturo Ongkeko Jr., and The Philippine Policy Context for eHealth” with lead author Dr. James Salisi.

The 16th NHRFA was co-organized by DOH and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.