University of Philippines Manila

UP Manila officials and luminaries bat for unity and collaboration in 7th MMHRDC Symposium

The opening ceremony of the 7th Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium (MMHRDC) Symposium was held on November 23, 2023 at the Radisson Park Inn in Quezon City. Present as guests and speakers during the ceremony were UP Manila Chancellor Dr. Michael L. Tee, National Scientist (NS) and former UP Manila Chancellor Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Eva Maria C. Cutiongco-de la Paz, former Philippine General Hospital Director Dr. Juan Ma. Pablo R. Nañagas, and MMHRDC Director Dr. Hilton Y. Lam.

In her welcome message, NIH Director Dr. Cutiongco-de la Paz, as Chair of the Steering Committee, gave a briefer on the various roles of the MMHRDC, describing it as a “crucial point in exemplifying partnerships and collaborations in health research and education with the 46 institutions under its wings.” Stating that health and well-being is essential to a happy and productive life for Filipinos, she underlined the importance of “creating an environment that is responsive to our needs,” thus the theme for the symposium. In closing, Dr. Cutiongco-de la Paz expressed hope that the event could “set the stage for more future collaborations, sharing of expertise, and educating and encouraging researchers in their journey towards better health and education, better healthcare and delivery, and more discoveries in health research.”

The Chancellor’s Message

Chancellor Michael L. Tee began his message by taking note of the MMHRDC Hymn, mentioning the lyrics, “Sama-sama, karunungang ganap, tayo na; sa susunod na henerasyon, iyan ang ating sandata.” Emphasizing “sama-sama,” Dr. Tee stated that those words actually meant “what a consortium is all about.” He noted the variety of partners which form the MMHRDC ecosystem, such as the NEDA which deals with the economic aspects, the DOH, and the DOST, and that the symposium is a way to learn how research can be situated.

Chancellor Tee stressed that he sees the potential of future collaborative projects, using UP Manila’s Masters of Nursing as an example, and mentioning the possibility of producing more “nursing teachers,” as a form of collaboration among member agencies. “In [the near future], we will see research that is produced by people who ‘cross tables,’” he said, pertaining to the conduct of research by people from different offices, not just one agency. He gave the idea of people “hopping from one table to another, asking each other’s interest, expressing one’s own interest.”

Chancellor Tee shared with the participants three “A’s,” action points which should be tackled during the symposium:

  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) – How can we create policies to support AMR in hospitals?
  • Access – How do we improve access for the Filipino people?
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – How can we use this symposium to engage all relevant government agencies, and push the President to issue an executive order on the use of AI, which could help in disease prevention in the future?

Concluding his message, Chancellor Tee stated, “On the part of UP Manila, we will be here to collaborate with you…we will offer our services, and in the same manner, we would like to tap into your expertise. Together, we are better. Everyone is an important participant in working together for deliberate and intentional research that is going to benefit and serve our people.”

Inspirational Message from NS Dr. Padilla

The inspirational message of NS Carmencita D. Padilla, former Chancellor of UP Manila, centered on the history of the MMHRDC and its previous forms. She gave special mention to the partner agencies who have been working with each other for almost 40 years, in the fields of capability building, collaboration, engagement, and networking among researchers, and the holding of conventions. The goal then (and now) was to help solve the health problems of the Filipino population by helping the government come up with solutions. Dr. Padilla stated that it is important to “go back,” to know the history of MMHRDC, and to “get together to sustain [the consortium].” She added that the legal mandate of the MMHRDC is derived from Republic Act 10532 which established the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS).

Dr. Padilla then posed questions for the reflection of MMHRDC: “As a consortium, did we contribute to the solutions? Which problems did we solve and address in the past four decades? How did we measure our impact on society? Did we have any research that helped push policies for the DOH?”

As she ended her message, Dr. Padilla stated that the success of the MMHRDC must be demonstrated, not only in the capability-building, training, and conventions, but most importantly in influencing policy development. If research has an impact, it will inspire the next generation to continue doing so. To the younger participants in the audience, she stressed the importance of data and documentation in research.

After the messages, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to officially mark the opening of the 2023 MMHRDC exhibit.

Martin R. Racza

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