Dr. Celia Carlos wins Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Award in Government Service
RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos receives the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Award for Government Service in the 31st Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Awards of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA)

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) Director Dr. Celia Carlos was bestowed the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Award for Government Service in the 31st memorial awards of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) yesterday, May 22, 2022.

PMA Chairman of the Government Service Category Dr. Israel Francis Vargas honored Dr. Carlos as she bested among the other three (3) finalists for the government service category.

“This year’s Jose P. Rizal awardee represents government service at its best. Our honoree had great influence and impacted our health systems, value-based healthcare, and delivery systems towards the Philippines’ goal for better health outcomes. She has maintained to date a morale of an ethical leader consistent with the organization’s and workplace’s standards,” said Dr. Vargas.

For almost four decades of service in the government sector, Dr. Carlos rose from the ranks from being a resident trainee to becoming the head of RITM. She has received numerous validations for her excellent service recognized by local and international organizations and has been highly praised for her leadership in steering the response efforts of RITM at the height of the COVID -19 pandemic.

Dr. Carlos was especially recognized for being the pillar of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Program (ARSP) of the Philippines.  She successfully advanced the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) surveillance for 34 years through various stages, including through the budgetary challenges for the first 30 years. The ARSP provided valuable evidence for many clinical practice guidelines on infectious diseases and contributed significantly to the more rational use of antibiotics and better management of patients.

Her leadership in the ARSP was recognized, not only in the Philippines but also internationally as evidenced by several invitations by the World Health Organization (WHO) to serve as temporary adviser/speaker for WHO consultations on AMR and participate in high level meetings on AMR, and invitations to be part of WHO international surveillance programs on AMR.

Dr. Carlos’ efforts were also crucial in the improvement of bacteriology laboratory standards, through the accreditation program initiated by ARSP for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in 2008. Through this accreditation program, actual enforcement of more rational use of antibiotics was achieved via strict PhilHealth reimbursement of expenses for restricted antibiotics based on compliance to antibiotic guidelines.

Hand in hand with emergence of surveillance data was the conduct of various research, publications, and speaking engagements that Dr. Carlos undertook on AMR and infectious diseases locally and abroad.

Awardees for the other categories include Dr. Ricardo Guanzon for Academe, Dr. Ma. Corazon Zaida Gamilla for Clinical Practice, Dr. Raul Quillamor for Community Leadership, and Dr. Maria Stephanie Samadan-Cagayan for Research.

Dr. Jose P. Rizal Awardees took home a specially designed Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Awards Trophy and Medallion, cash prize, and PHP100,000 worth of Unilab medicines to be donated to a charitable institution of the awardee’s choice.

The awarding was livestreamed in the 115th Annual Convention and Scientific Meetings, a partnership program of PMA and UNILAB initiated by the Southern Tagalog Association of Medical Practitioners.

The Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Award is an annual search for outstanding Filipino physicians who embody the ideals of the national hero in their lives, practice, and service.

by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Office