UP Manila medical experts receive Presidential Merit Award for pandemic response contribution


June 30, 2022 — Four UP Manila health experts were conferred one of the highest award given by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in recognition of their significant contributions to the national COVID-19 pandemic response. 

They were Dr. Marissa Alejandria, Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-Dela Paz, and Dr. Edsel Maurice T. Salvaña who were recognized along with the Inter-Agency Task Force members and Dept. of Health officials at the Malacañang Rizal Hall on June 16, 2022.

The four UP COVID-19 medical expert awardees were given the Order of Lapulapu, Rank of Magalong medal given to officials and personnel of the government and private individuals who have rendered extraordinary service or have made exceptional contributions to the success of an activity pursuant to a campaign or advocacy of the President.

Dr. Alejandria, member of Technical Advisory Group and IATF Task Force COVID-19 Variants, led the Philippine participation in the World Health Organization Solidarity Trials for vaccines and drugs for the treatment of the coronavirus.

Dr. Ong-Lim, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, was a member of the Technical Advisory Group and IATF Task Force COVID-19 Variants. She was a constant speaker in webinars, conferences, and similar events providing accurate, updated, and timely information on prevention and caring for Covid 19 patients in varied settings.

Dr. Salvana, an infectious disease expert and molecuar epidemiologist, was a member of the DOH-Technical Advisory Group and IATF Task Force COVID-19 Variants. His contributions were in determining the safety and benefit of the vaccines with emergency use authorizations in the Philippines’ fight against COVID-19 and on the manageability of COVID-19 cases in the country as the vaccines were being rolled out.

The contributions of Dr. Cutiongco-Dela Paz, member of the IATF Task Force COVID-19 Variants, were in the fields of training and testing through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of which she is Executive Director.  Since March 2020, when the pandemic began, the NIH has been working closely with the Department of Health and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for the training of frontliners on biosafety and molecular biology techniques to perform RT-PCR SARS CoV2 testing especially at that time when the country needed to have more licensed laboratories for RT PCR testing. The training has graduated more than 4,617 trainees nationwide, many of whom are the med techs and laboratorians running the different accredited laboratories.

With volunteer faculty and research assistants from the NIH National Training Center for Biosafety and Biosecurity (NTCBB), UP Diliman National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (NIMBB) and UP Philippine Genome Center (PGC), created online modules for the DOH training assistance program called UP TRAINS. The BEAT COVID-19 or Biosafety Education and Awareness Training was designed to provide core concepts of basic biosafety and biosecurity practices including risk assessment, bio-containment facilities, as well as basics of PPEs, disinfection, sterilization and decontamination, and waste management of biological material.

Apart from the individual awards, group awards were given to 33 COVID-19-related organizations, professional medical societies, and tasks forces. Several of the awarded experts groups have UPM and NIH people as members. They are as follows:

1. Dr. Cecille Maramba-Lazarte - Member, Core Committee of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC)

2. Dr. Shelley de la Vega - Member of the NITAG (National Immunization Technical Advisory Group)

3. Dr. Raymond Sarmiento - Co-chair of the IATF sub-Technical Working Group on ICT for Data Governance and Member of FASSTER 

4. Dr. Lulu Bravo - Chair of the National Adverse Effects Following Immunization Committee

5. Dr. Marita Reyes - Chair of the Core Committee of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) 

6. Dr. Nina Gloriani - Head of the Vaccine Development Expert Panel

7. Dr. Jacinto Blas Mantaring III - Member, Core Committee of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) 

8. Dr. Imelda Pena - Member, Subcommittee on Drugs, HTAC

9. Dr. Josefina Tuazon - Member, Subcommittee on other Health Technologies, HTAC


The full list of the group awardees:

1. IATF Principals 


3. IATF Secretariat

4. Philippine COVID-19 Living CLinical Practice Guidelines Steering Committee

5. Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group

6. DOST Vaccine Expert Panel

7. Health Technology Assessment Council

8. National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee

9. COVID-19 Laboratory Experts Panel

10. Ateneo de Manila FASSSTER

11. Epimetrics Inc.

12. UP National Institute for Health

13. UP Genomic Center

14. Philippine Institute for Development Studies

15. One Hospital Command Center

16. National Vaccines Operation Center

17. Epide,miology Bureau -COVID-19 Surveillance and Quick Action Unit

18. Bureau of Quarantine

19. Disease Prevention and Control Bureau

20. Health Promotion Bureau

21. Health Emergency Management Bureau

22. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation

23. Philippine Medical Association

24. Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

25. Philippine Pediatric Society

26. Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines

27. Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

28. Philippine Heart Association

29. Philippine Society of Hypertension

30. Philippine Obstetric and Gynecology Society

31. Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine

32. AI4GOV

33. Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID19


Cynthia M. Villamor | Published in UP Manila Healthscape Issue No. 40 (June 2022)

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