Press Release
October 20, 2010


The Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) has identified the establishment of a Philippine Genome Center and the expansion of Telemedicine as priority projects to deliver basic health services throughout the country.


A 2009 report of the United Nations Economic and Social Council's Commission on Science and Technology for Development acknowledges that ICT plays an integral role in implementing government services. Through the research of COMSTE's Health Sciences and ICT panels, Telemedicine is seen as having strategic advantages for the Philippines.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of COMSTE, said that, "telemedicine has the potential to become a game changer for the country. That is why I have set PHP 100 Million for funding from the 2009 budget for this program."

Angara said that aside from improving basic health care services and delivery to remote areas, telemedicine will create the foundation for digital medical records. By collecting data from patients all over the country, transitioning to a digital medical record system will become easier.

The collection of digital records also creates a centralized information system that can be utilized by PhilHealth. By keeping track of its members, PhilHealth can make it easier for members to get the health care they need and at the same time sustain their membership, Angara noted.

The COMSTE health panel has also seen the use of Telemedicine technology as becoming the basis for an innovative way for remote consultations and patient interfacing, which can provide the Philippines with a competitive edge in the medical tourism market.

COMSTE reports show that a large number of pregnant women go through term without receiving prenatal testing and an estimated 40% of the populace have never seen a doctor.

Philippine Genome Center

The establishment of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) is an important step in addressing the major health priority problems of the country, said Angara.

The PGC has been identified COMSTE as a key proponent in keeping the country globally competitive by helping to deal with challenges in healthcare.

Angara said, "the top experts and doctors on the COMSTE health sciences panel have said that the PGC will help pave the way towards the creation of a network of health institutions. It will also become an enabling environment for our scientists and researchers."

An estimated PHP 47 Million pesos has been allocated in the proposed 2010 General Appropriations Act (GAA) for the establishment of the PGC. The facility is a project of the University of the Philippines (UP) system, which will house research, diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic services.

"This will be a world class facility which will help our doctors to understand genes and their codes and translate the knowledge into practical applications," noted Angara.

The COMSTE Health panel has said in a report that the center will open up avenues for stem cell research for new cures to old diseases, but its uses are not limited to health. The PGC can also be of use to the food and agriculture industry in the utilization of biotechnology.

The use of modern technology in the PGC to help the ailing health care system of the country is game-changing and can set the Philippines apart Angara added.

The COMSTE Health report also indicates the lack of a research culture in the country, including a deficiency in research-focused courses. The PGC is envisioned to address the lack of institutional research infrastructure and jumpstart the R&D innovation in healthcare.

Dr. Ramon Arcadio is Chair of the COMSTE health panel, with members current DOH Secretary Dr. Enrique Ona, Dr. Carmencita Padilla, Dr. Carmelita Divinagracia, Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, and Dr. Fely Marilyn Lorenzo.

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