Press Release
August 1, 2010


Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said that in order to allow the country to benefit from the raging revolution in health care, government must equip and empower our health care professionals and make health-care research a top priority in the national agenda.

"Developing countries, which often operate on a limited budget, cannot afford to support expensive health care facilities. A study published by the Global Health Forum showed that low- and middle-income countries accounted for around 3 percent of the $160.3 billion spent on global health research. In this regard, we can look at how India has turned such constraint into an advantage. Instead of developing pricey equipment, health-care innovations in India focus on making efficient use of resources and improving outcomes," said Angara, chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).

Innovations in medical research often come at a high price tag. The newly established Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, which spearheads the use of engineering and nanotechnology to treat cancer, was built through a $100-million donation from an alumnus.

He added, "Beating-heart surgery is an example of such innovation. Pioneered by Wockhardt, an Indian hospital chain, the procedure uses a device to stabilize a particular part of the heart that needs to be operated on, while the rest continues to pump blood. It does not make use of general anesthesia and blood thinners, and patients who undergo this procedure recover faster than those who underwent conventional heart surgery. The approach has thus attracted patients around the world to India's hospitals and boosted its thriving medical-tourism industry."

According to Nobel laureate Dr. Philip Sharp, the third revolution in health-care research has begun. Principles and techniques used in computer science, nanotechnology, in chemical, mechanical, and biological engineering are being employed in molecular-biology research, promising medicine and treatments for deadly diseases such as cancer.

Dr. Robert Langer's "cancer-smart bomb," for instance, has made use of cancer biology, pharmacology and engineering to develop a "nanocell" that targets only cancer cells and leaves healthy cells unscathed.

Angara, the main proponent of the PhilHealth Law and now pursuing the Child Health Insurance, said that health-care research has become multifaceted and interdisciplinary. To top it all, the speed at how innovations are discovered is at its fastest in history. Dr. Sharp, who currently teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), notes that there are more drugs and treatments under development than ever before.

"Experiences of other countries like India can teach us a lot. Like India, we face the challenge of providing health care to a growing population with diminishing resources. We also have an army of competent and talented health professionals waiting to be tapped. It is high time we equip and empower them, and make health-care research a top priority. Health research will enable our doctors to save lives, prevent and cure illnesses, and enhance the well-being of Filipinos. It will also propel the country to the raging revolution in health care," added Angara.

Angara seeks to institutionalize the Philippine National Health Research System. The proposed Philippine National Health Research System will address current health problems by institutionalizing the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) and creating the Philippine National Health Research Fund (PNHRF) which will spur the country's health care research efforts.

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