University of Philippines Manila

Conference held to strengthen public health competencies of health workers

In response to the pressing need for enhanced public health competencies of healthworkers in the Philippines, the UP Manila Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs convened the deans of the various colleges at UP Manila, along with their executive committees, to outline their strategies during the “Conference on Strengthening of Public Health Competencies in the Health Sciences” held on Oct. 9, 2023 at the Manila Hotel.

In his message, Department of Health Sec. Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa urged UP Manila and other higher education institutions to remain vigilant in anticipating new public health challenges and their impact on policy and practice. He emphasized the need to incorporate these challenges into education and research programs to better address the nation’s public health needs.

Chancellor Carmencita D. Padilla underscored the historical significance of public health in UP Manila and the challenge put forth by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). She emphasized the importance of integrating public health education not only in medicine and public health programs but across all health-related courses.

In a message delivered by Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development Dr. Michael Tee, CHED Chair Prospero E. De Vera Ill, emphasized the commitment of UP Manila to enhance public health competencies, align programs with national goals and international standards, and cultivate health leaders and advocates.

“We all know that we need public health workforce with the capability of responding to local and global emergencies and challenges including attending to public health routine activities such as health promotion disease prevention and we also know that UP Manila is in a very strategic position to address this concern,” asserted De Vera.

Dr. Vivien Fe F. Fadrilan-Camacho, Associate Professor at the College of Public Health (CPH), explained the objectives of the conference, core competencies of public health, and highlights and outputs of the workshops. She stressed the need to disseminate the workshop outputs and engage stakeholders to work collectively on strengthening health competencies across all UP Manila programs.

Dr. Melflor A. Atienza, Dean of the National Teacher Training Center for the Health Professions, presented the toolkit for teaching public health. She emphasized the significance of integrating public health competencies into existing program learning outcomes and courses to produce graduates who can effectively address public health challenges.

During the open forum, CPH Dean Dr. Fernando B. Garcia highlighted the CPH’s role in addressing not only medical and laboratory issues but also the broader social determinants of health. He encouraged participants to view public health as a societal responsibility dedicated to promoting health, preventing disease, and saving lives while addressing various challenges.

For her part, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Nymia P. Simbulan pointed to the role of the National Service Training Program in introducing first-year students to the concept of public health. The NSTP program aims to frame students’ perspectives on health issues, diseases, and wellness within the context of society.

The conference also featured presentations by the deans on their respective outputs related to public health competencies.

(Charmaine A. Lingdas)

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