The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) conducted its 37th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) on July 8-9, 2015 at the Manila Hotel. The NAST PHL, established by Presidential Decree No. 1003-A in 1976 and the primary adviser to the government and science community on matters related to science and technology, chose The Challenges of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs): Responding through Multisectoral Action as the theme of this year’s ASM.

The meeting aimed to extensively discuss the control and prevention of NCDs, share new conceptual framework in the development of NCDs, identify the major role of the various sciences, civil society and other sectors in the prevention of NCDs, and to draft recommendations to the President and policy makers responsible for the prevention and control of NCDs.

Acd. William G. Padolina, president of the NASTPhilippines welcomed the participants and gave a brief overview of the two-day program which included presentation and discussion of  current knowledge on NCDs, research gaps, and policy interventions to address the growing prevalence of NCDs using the tools of science and technology.

Honorable Mario G. Montejo, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, graced the said event. He highlighted the DOST’s RxBox project, co-sponsored with the University of the Philippines Manila, which harnesses telemedicine that can be an effective tool to initially diagnose the occurrence of NCDs in isolated and disadvantaged communities nationwide.

Senator Pia Cayetano ,the keynote speaker, emphasized the importance of being persistent in pursuing solutions that are relevant to society. She discussed in particular the bills that she helped to pass, such as the sin tax law, reproductive health law, among others. She also brought into light the economic cost of having non communicable diseases.

Experts shared their insights and experiences in the six plenary sessions of the meeting. In Plenary Session 1, Academician Antonio Miguel L. Dans, professor, University of the Philippines (UP) Manila and member of the NAST Health Sciences Division, discussed the Burden and Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases. For Plenary Session 2, Dr. Ma. Concepcion C. Lizada, professor emeritus, UP Diliman, talked about Synergy in Managing Non-Communicable Diseases. National Scientist Angel C. Alcala, chair of the NAST Biological Sciences Division, discussed Acute Non-Communicable Diseases Caused by Ingestion of Marine Finfish and Shellfish in Plenary Session 3. During Plenary Session 4, Dr. Evangeline C. Santiago, Scientific Career System Scientist I and former head of the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory of the Natural Sciences Research Institute of UP Diliman, and Academician Filemon A. Uriarte, Jr., member of the Engineering Sciences and Technology Division, discussed Environmental Chemical Pollutants and NCDs: Prevention and Mitigation. In Plenary Session 5, Mr. Gerardo F. Parco, senior environmental specialist of the World Bank, discussed How Effective have the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Solid Waste Management Acts been? Lastly, in Plenary Session 6, Dr. Stella Luz A. Quimbo, professor, School of Economics, UP Diliman, expounded on Does Sin Taxing Deliver us from Diseases? An Initial Assessment of the Health Impact of Sin Taxes in the Philippines.

Three (3) simultaneous technical sessions were conducted on the second day of the event. Technical session 1 featured Dr. Beatrice Jayme-Tiangco, oncologist at Cancer Center, Medical City, who talked about the Role of Stem Cells in the Management of NCDs; In Technical Session 2, Dr. Jaime Z. Galvez Tan, president of Health Futures Foundation discussed the Role of Nutriceuticals in the Management of NCDs; and Technical Session 3 explored the Interaction of and between CDs and NCDs by National Scientist Ernesto O. Domingo, member of NAST Health Sciences Division.

Academician Antonio Miguel L. Dans, chair of the ASM resolutions committee, presented the resolutions to DOST Secretary Honorable Mario G. Montejo, who was represented by Dr. Amelia P. Guevara, DOST undersecretary for Research and Development and Dr. Kenneth Hartigan Go, DOH undersecretary for Health Regulations. The resolutions are the summarized resulting recommendations of this year’s pre-ASM roundtable discussions.

Five (5) new Academicians joined the roster of NAST members. They are: Drs. Ceferino P. Maala, Jurgenne H. Primavera, Estrella F. Alabastro, Fortunato B. Sevilla III, and Edward H.M. Wang.

Part of the two-day activity was the annual recognition rite for the following awards; Outstanding Young Scientists (OYS), The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) Prize for Young Scientists in the Philippines, NAST Talent Search for Young Scientists, NAST Environmental Science Award, Outstanding Books and Monographs, Outstanding Scientific Papers, and Best Scientific Posters. (Please see separate news on this)

The 37th ASM was organized by the Academy with the assistance from various donors and sponsors. Almost a thousand scientists and researchers from key institutions and agencies gathered at the venue to attend and participate in this important event. The37th ASM was hosted by the Health Sciences Division chaired by Academician Jaime C. Montoya and co-Chaired by Academician Antonio Miguel L. Dans.

This annual activity serves as the leading forum for the presentation of scientific and policy research  conducted by the Academy. Policy recommendations on appropriate interventions are submitted to the Philippine government and concerned sectors.