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DOST-DOH ink partnership to strengthen healthcare programs in the country

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DOST Secretary Mario Montejo (front left) shakes hand to Secretary Enrique Ona (front right) of Department of Health during the signing of memorandum of understanding held in Quezon City. Also in this photo are (at the back from left to right) PCHRD Director Dr. Jaime Montoya, ITDI Director Dr. Nuna Almanzor, Dr. Lillian de Las Llagas of University of the Philippines Manila and Dr. Eduardo Janairo of DOH-NCDPC

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Health (DOH) ink partnership to strengthen healthcare delivery in the country through the signing of two Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the national rollout of the ovicidal and larvicidal (OL) mosquito trap system for Aedes mosquito and the institutionalization of the National Telehealth Service Program (NTSP).

“This is just the first among the series of collaborations we have with the DOH,” DOST Secretary Mario Montejo informed the media during the press conference following the MOU signing in Quezon City on 14 April 2011. “We are geared to prioritize the OL mosquito trap to address the increasing dengue cases that threatens the lives of our people, specially the children,” added Secretary Montejo.

In 2010, the Philippines experienced the worst outbreak of dengue, almost reaching the epidemic level.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona warned the public that the country may be witnessing a far worse outbreak this year because of the early dramatic peak in the number of cases recorded for the first two months of 2011.  However, Secretary Ona said, the “DOST OL mosquito trap is a timely intervention that can help DOH campaign to control and reduce the dengue incidence in the country.”

Meanwhile, the Director of the Industrial Technology and Development Institute (ITDI) of DOST, Dr. Nuna Almanzor, has reported that the DOST and DOH regional directors are currently coordinating for the national roll-out of the OL mosquito trap. “In fact, there were seven Regions that have launched already. These are the Regions VIII, II, VI, VII, IX, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region X, while Region IV-B is scheduled to launch today in Palawan,” said Dr. Almanzor.

On the other hand, the institutionalization of the national telehealth service program is part of the strategy of the government to address universal healthcare using information and communication technology (ICT) in delivering healthcare especially to remote and underserved areas.

The program aims to widen the healthcare services of the government by reaching the remote and far-flung communities characterized as geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) through the NTSP.

One of the medical devices in NTSP is the RxBox, a computer system that can be used to measure the patient’s heart rate, Electrocardiograph (ECG), pulse rate and blood oxygenation. It stores data and send via wired or wireless network. The machine also has a probe camera to capture and send images of the patient’s body parts for examination while the video conferencing feature enables doctors from different locations to consult each other for medical diagnosis purposes.

“This technology is intended to respond to the healthcare needs of the people who have no adequate access to quality health professionals and facilities. As of today, there are machines already deployed for field testing and communication protocols system enhancement,” said Secretary Montejo.

Secretary Montejo further declared that these projects proved that the government is serious in upgrading its capabilities in providing effective yet affordable healthcare services for the Filipino people. “That is why we, at the science community, are continuously looking for possibilities to meet today’s challenges through research and development (R&D). I know we still have a long way to go, but I’m proud to say that we are on the right track.” Edmon B. Agron, PCHRD   

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