Infectious disease experts discussed the Philippines’ public health crisis as it battles four outbreaks at the 3rd RITM Annual Research Conference held last December 11, 2019 at the Acacia Hotel Manila in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
The conference also highlighted the phenomenon on vaccine hesitancy and its consequences as former Secretary of Health Dr. Manuel Dayrit shared his insights on the politicization of the infamous dengue vaccine and the need for effective risk communication.
Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in the National Institutes of Health – University of the Philippines Manila Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña also encouraged scientists to speak up and reclaim social media to fight back against vaccine hesitancy and the anti-vaxxer propaganda.
The event also featured a panel discussion composed of Dr. Dayrit, Dr. Salvaña, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of the East – Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, Inc. Dr. Gemiliano Aligui, and internist Dr. Arthur Dessi Roman on their learnings from recent outbreaks and preventing their recurrence.
Among Dr. Roman’s realizations during the forum was the importance of risk and media communication. “[Medical] societies need to step up their game in terms of communicating the science of medical practice and [how it applies in real life in a way that common people would appreciate],” he remarked.
True to its theme “Breaking out of the cycle: Raising awareness on disease outbreaks in the Philippines,” plenary sessions on notable RITM studies and on the current public health outbreaks in the Philippines, namely: African swine fever, measles, dengue, and polio were also featured.
by Eunice Brito, Project Matyag, Research Assistant