By Ma. Cristina C. Arayata
MANILA, Dec. 15 (PNA) — Aside from ensuring that science and technology (S&T) will be felt by every Juan, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) believes that S&T will only make a difference if they are applied to solve problems of Filipinos, plus providing science-based solutions that will help achieve inclusive growth.
The agency has placed a premium on developing local innovations in line with its eight (outcomes namely: agricultural productivity, enterprise development, industry competitiveness, information and communications technology, e-governance, healthcare, education and disaster risk reduction and mitigation.
Listed below are among the major accomplishements of DOST in different areas/fields.
1. Disaster risk reduction and mitigation
The government has institutionalized disaster prevention and mitigation both on the local and national level through the creation of the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Project NOAH).
Project NOAH, which was further improved and relaunched this month, provides accurate and detailed hazards and risk information; improved disaster and weather forecasting systems and protocols; establishment of critical infrastructure and equipment; and installation of satellite-based remote sensing technologies.
For geological hazards, the DOST has produced the Valley Fault System (VFS) Atlas in Greater Metro Manila. The VFS Atlas in Greater Metro Manila Area is a handbook of large scale maps showing in detail areas traversed by the VFS.The West Valley Fault may generate a large earthquake with magnitude 7.2, which poses threat to people’s lives, buildings and infrastructures, and livelihood.
Meanwhile, recognizing the advantages of using satellite-based remote sensing technology, the government is investing Php1.1billion in the construction and launching of the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Micro-Satellite, under the PHL-MICROSAT or DIWATA Program. DIWATA is the country’s first micro-satellite, co-designed and developed by Filipino scientists and engineers with Japan’s Hokkaido and Tohoku Universities, and is geared to provide real-time high-resolution multi-color and infrared images for disaster risk management. This “eye-in-the-sky” will also enable a more precise estimate of the country’s agricultural production, provide images of watersheds and floodplains for a better understanding of water available for irrigation, power and domestic consumption, as well as information on any disturbance and degradation of forest and upland areas.
DIWATA-1 is scheduled to be launched within 2016 while DIWATA-2 is slated for completion by 2017.
2. Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
The government continues to accelerate growth in ICT for economic development and the delivery of social services, as well as to provide equal economic, social, and educational opportunities to all Filipinos nationwide.
DOST has the TV White Space (TVWS) Internet Program provides Internet connectivity to far-flung areas by using unused TV frequencies. The TVWS has been pilot-tested in Bohol in 2014, and continues to provide Internet connectivity to 15 schools, two (2) community e-Centers, two (2) health units, and in one (1) public plaza.
There’s also the Free Wifi Project which will provide free internet access in public areas in 3rd to 6th class municipalities, and includes two types of deployment. Implementation of the project has already started with the bulk connections to 14 cities already awarded. While, bidding for connectivity from the 14 cities, to the 967 municipalities is on-going.
3. Locally-developed mass transportation system
Government addresses these mass transport problems by establishing a locally-developed mass transportation system that is safe, efficient, clean, and cost-efficient, developed by Filipino engineers made from locally available parts, such as the Automated Guideway Transit System (AGT), Hybrid Electric Road Train, and the PNR Hybrid Electric Train.
The AGT technology aims to promote local technology as a sustainable mass transport alternative to address the highly-problematic vehicular traffic congestion and pollution especially in urban areas.
The Hybrid Electric Road Train is composed of five interconnected fully air-conditioned coaches, four of which can accommodate 65 passengers each, for a total of 260 commuters per ride. The road train’s crash load is 75 passengers per coach. The fifth coach is a power coach that houses the Diesel-Generator Set and Batteries.
The prototype was launched at Clarkfield, Pampanga in June 2015 that yielded very positive results in terms of viability as a transport alternative. Clark Development Corporation has expressed their interest to adopt the technology as well as Cebu City.
4. Technology support for boosting industry productivity and competitiveness
DOST continues with its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) program. It was created to boost micro, small, medium enterprises (MSME) productivity and competitiveness through the provision of technology, product standards and testing, packaging and labeling, and linkaging and networking.
There is also the establishment of the Php54 million Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT). The DOST sees this as a step closer to fulfilling the vision of Philippine Textile Research Institute’s (PTRI): to allow tropical fabrics such as piña and banana establish a stronger presence in the mainstream market. The ICYT will produce yarns customized to customers’ and industry needs and make indigenous yarns more accessible to local handloom weaving communities, commercial millers or knitters. The ICYT is also seen to boost the country’s textile industry as it helps prop up indigenous fabrics’ foothold in the market.
5.Drug Discovery through PH Biodiversity
Its rich biodiversity provides the Philippines a strategic advantage in discovering plant resources with medicinal value. The government harnesses this advantage by putting up critical facilities needed for the various stages of drug discovery, which includes infrastructure and equipment for the screening of drug candidates, pre-clinical testing, and formulation, as well as by incentivizing and broadening the capacity of region-based researchers.
6. Research and development (R&D) efforts supporting health and education for rural communities
In support of the inclusive growth agenda of the Aquino Administration, the government continuously conceptualizes, develops, and rolls-out innovative and sustainable health and education technology services that can reach far-flung and disadvantaged communities, to provide them with appropriate health care and education services.
The Dengue Diagnostic Kits enable early detection and management of dengue that was developed by DOST in partnership with University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, wherein the government invested Php 23 million for the years 2011-2015, for the development of Biotek-M Kit which has the power of DNA/RNA-based accurate detection of the dengue virus and can be used in health centers and hospitals. Roll-out of the kit in selected areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will be completed this year according to the DOST.
The Dengue Mosquito OL Trap deployed of a total of 699,129 OL traps at the start of 2015 and 8,063,819 sachets of pellets in 36,323 public schools nationwide with total investment of Php 59 million. Out of these schools, 71 percent have participated in regularly updating the PCHRD their OL index through SMS, of which the data is then made available through the Dengue Vector Surveillance website.
The RxBox Program, on the other hand, is a multi-component program which aims to produce and deploy bio-medical devices to isolated and disadvantaged communities nationwide, to provide better access to health care services, as well as to address illnesses of varying gravity for monitoring or treatment. The device is capable of capturing medical signals through built-in medical sensors, storing data in an electronic medical record (Community Health Information Tracking System or CHITS), and transmitting health information via internet to a clinical specialist in the PH General Hospital for expert advice.
Since 2013 to March 2015, RxBox has been deployed in 115 sites in 46 provinces, most of which are low income municipalities in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA), in 17 regions of the country. A total of 697 health workers were trained on the ethical use of RxBox and its components. Feedback from health workers on the use of RxBox includes enhanced work productivity due to easy and quick records management and easy integration into the existing health facility workflow. For the first quarter of 2015 alone, around 3,773,056 patients have already been served since the RxBox’s deployment.
7. Science and Technology Scholarships
The government recognizes the important role of science, technology, and innovation for inclusive growth and sustainable development. In this regard, a formidable science and technology human resource base is critical for the establishment of a vibrant science and technology ecosystem that stimulates and enables innovation in priority areas for national development. S&T scholarships are continuously bolstered and scaled-up to sustain the government’s development efforts.
As of SY 2014-2015, the total Philippine Science High School System students enrolled have risen to 4,587, from 3,532 in SY 2010-2011.
8. Science and Technology information and promotion
The DOST conducts Science Nation: Agham na Ramdam, Science Tech Fair, National Science and Technology Week.
After bringing “Iba na ang Panahon: Science for Safer Communities” to all 17 regions of the country, DOST now brings “Science Nation (SNT): Agham na Ramdam” to the regions. A premier showcase of DOST’s S&T programs and success stories, the event features activities reflecting DOST’s bid to integrate science in efforts toward progress and inclusive growth. Among these are exhibits, forums, inaugurations and launchings of DOST-assisted projects, and the conferment of the title S&T ambassador to distinguished individuals from the region who advocate S&T initiatives.
So far, DOST has brought its Science Nation Tour to the following regions: Cagayan Valley, Davao, Central Visayas, MIMAROPA, Northern Mindanao, Ilocos, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, ARMM, and National Capital Region.
The agency’s “centerpiece event” for the year is the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) which showcases the programs, products, and technologies of every DOST agency as well as inventions of students and professionals alike outside the DOST community. For 2015, NSTW had one of its most successful stagings, attracting the biggest audience in any NSTW celebration. (PNA)