House members push for a bigger budget for DOST in 2020

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2019   •   2805

The first Philippine-made train developed by DOST that takes the PNR Tutuban-Alabang route. | Photo courtesy of DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute

Members of the House of Representatives are pushing for a bigger budget for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in 2020.

The DOST’s budget proposal is P20.18 billion, which is P79.85 million lower than its 2019 allocation of P20.26 billion.

However, 2nd District Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. pushed to increase the DOST budget by at least P5 billion for all the provinces across the country.

During the budget briefing of the House Committee on Appropriations, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said the efforts of the department has raised the country’s rank by 19 spots in the Global Innovation Index this year.

The DOST Secretary also added that several initiatives of the department has helped address the concerns of the Filipinos. These include the Anti-Dengue Program, the Malnutrition Reduction Program, the creation of Hybrid Electric Trainsets, and others.

Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago also expressed hope for the DOST’s budget augmentation.

“I really lament that you have very meager budget…Science and technology should be our top priority,” Elago said.—AAC 

House panel approves P1.5-T fund to create jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020

The House Defeat COVID-19 Committee has approved a bill seeking to provide a P1.5-trillion fund to create sustainable jobs amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

House Bill 6709 or the proposed “COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) Act of 2020″ is set to fund infrastructure projects in rural areas to help curb unemployment amid the pandemic.

The CURES Act of 2020 shall also be undertaken with the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program” and the immediate funding of CURES projects shall target the construction of health centers, school buildings, vocational learning centers, as well as improving fish ports and trading centers at barangay levels.

The House Bill is expected to be sponsored on Thursday (May 28) for its 2nd reading approval in the plenary on Thursday afternoon. It will have to go through a 3rd and final reading before it can hurdle the House.

Meanwhile, representatives of other government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) also endorsed the approval of the proposed CURES Act of 2020. –AAC

Local inventor, DOST to develop disinfection unit for COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A local inventor and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are developing a disinfection unit for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, inventor and CEO of Parasat Cable TV, handed over his innovation to the DOST. The project aims to help healthcare frontliners to conserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Paras’ innovation called the Parazap is a portable ultraviolet room disinfection unit that is electrically operated. The machine consists of two sets of UV-C germicidal lamps that can accommodate up to 10 N95 masks in one cycle.

“The device is designed to disinfect PPEs specifically N95 masks, killing almost 99% of microorganisms by means of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation,” according to the media release of the DOST.

“In partnership with Engr. Paras, the DOST through its Regional Standards and Testing Laboratories (RSTL) and COVID-19 Response Disinfection Team will assess and evaluate the efficiency of the equipment through testing of N95 masks for growth of available microorganism stock cultures before and after treatment in the UV-C chamber,” the DOST added.

Meanwhile, the DOST is also in need of respirator and ventilator parts for COVID-19 patients. According to DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, ventilators in small hospitals are depleting.

“Lalong humirap ang pag-import ng ventilator kasi nag-aagawan ng supply, (Importing ventilators is getting more difficult because there is competition for supply),” he said.

Two prototypes of 3D-printed ventilator parts and respirator Venturi valves were already turned over by DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) to the National Children’s Hospital in Quezon City.

De la Peña said they will proceed with mass production once the prototypes work well in the first recipients. AAC

IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

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