The Roundtable Discussion (RTD) on Linking Agriculture and Food Systems to Non-Communicable diseases was held last November 20, 2014 at Hotel Jen Manila. The RTD was organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) through its Agricultural Sciences Division (ASD).
This RTD was conducted in preparation for the upcoming Annual Scientific meeting (ASM) on July 8-9, 2015 which will focus on Non-Communicable Diseases. National Scientist Dolores A. Ramirez, member of the ASD, provided the objectives of the RTD, which were to 1) discuss research-based information about the links between food habit and non-communicable diseases; 2) discuss research-based information about possibilities for intensification, integration and diversification in Philippine Agriculture to meet the needs for balanced human nutrition; and 3) propose ways to improve the eating habits of the Filipino masses to reduce incidence of non-communicable diseases.
Academician Eufemio T. Rasco Jr., focal person of the RTD and executive director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), gave an overview of how agriculture and food systems can be linked to NCDs. According to Acd. Rasco, like communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases are also traceable to agriculture. They call these diseases the “diseases of civilization” because studies show that there is a relationship between the new food brought by agriculture and the new diseases that emerged. Similarly, the new food system, which is known as “Industrial farming” employed for cheap, fast, and convenient food, is also responsible for those diseases. Other factors affecting the health of Filipinos are the increasing rice consumption, which accounts for 119 kilos per capita, per year; and the preference for rice with high glycemic index or the white rice.
“There is a need for a policy to address the needs of the persons with rare diseases”, said Acd. Carmencita Padilla. during the Roundtable Discussion (RTD) on Rare Diseases last October 30, 2014 at Traders Hotel, Manila. The RTD was organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) through its Health Sciences Division (HSD).
The scenario of rare diseases in the country was reviewed on a global and local scale by Dr. Mary Anne Chiong, a biochemical geneticist from the National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila. According to Dr. Chiong, the definitions of rare diseases vary depending on the number of incidences in a country. Globally, 350 individuals are diagnosed with rare diseases. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), orphan disorders, another name used to refer to rare diseases, occur in 6.5-10 out of 10,000 population.
It is estimated that there are more than 7,000 different types of orphan disorders. In her presentation, the country’s situation and challenges in caring for these patients were assessed. She identified the challenges as delay in diagnosis, misdiagnosis, limited and high-cost of scientific treatment, and the social and emotional burden on patients and family with rare diseases.
Mr. Juan Benedicto K. Magdaraog, a patient with Pompe Disease, also served as a speaker. He shared his life with Pompe disease and the rare disease’s impact on his childhood, his well-being, as well as on his dreams and aspirations. He shared his story of overcoming many limititations and moving forward despite Pompe. Mr. Magdaraog, also called “Dickoy”, expressed his will to “change how people perceive people with rare diseases”. He is a graduate of a degree in Industrial Design from College of Saint Benilde, De La Salle University and is currently working as a front-end web designer of an IT company.
Ebola virus and other infectious diseases were the focus of the Roundtable Discussion (RTD) on Coping with Emerging Infectious Diseases held on November 3, 2014 at Traders Hotel Manila. The RTD was organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) through its Biological Sciences Division.
The recent outbreak in Western Africa and cases in the United States have given Ebola worldwide attention. Ebola is a virus from the family Filoviridae that causes African Hemorrhagic Fever which can be fatal if untreated.
Acd. William G. Padolina, president of NAST PHL, stressed the need for caution and preparedness for the eventuality that Ebola and other serious infectious diseases would reach the Philippine shores. One reason that makes our country vulnerable is the large number and mobility of Filipino overseas workers.
National Scientist Angel C. Alcala, chair of the Biological Sciences Division and focal person of the RTD, spoke of the controversies on the detection and control of Ebola in people returning from countries of West Africa. In support to Acd. Padolina’s statement, he also emphasized the need to learn more of its control before it possibly hits our country.
Acd. Veronica F. Chan, member of the Biological Sciences Division, explained the epidemiology of the Ebola virus including its evolution, incidence, distribution, and control. According to Acd. Chan, “Ebola” came from the name of a river in Sudan where it was discovered. However, even before it was named, there was already an epidemic that occurred in Marburg, Yugoslavia. The African Green Monkeys, which were exported to Germany for studies in vaccine production, brought the virus endemic to Africa. From this came about the other name, Marburg Ebola disease, for the African Hemorrhagic Fever caused by the virus. The first simultaneous outbreaks of Marburg-Ebola disease in Zaire listed 88% fatality rate and 55% in Sudan.
Dr, Noel Lee J. Miranda, an independent public health consultant, talked about his experience and gave some background on his work with the identification of the Ebola Reston strain virus in the country. According to Dr. Miranda, aside from the capacity to cause fatal hemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus can also mutate. It is the primary reason why animal reservoirs of the virus like fruit bats can transmit it to humans and other animals such as monkeys and even pigs.