RESULTS of academic research should be aimed at helping the people, especially those living in far-flung areas, top Filipino researchers said during the opening of the University’s Research Week last Nov. 18 at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex.

Experts presented programs and projects conducted in rural areas, which have proven to be beneficial to the local communities.

UST alumnus Oscar Picazo, an economist from the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, bared several health market innovations that sought to alleviate “health inequity” being experienced in the country. Innovations included franchises of stores selling affordable medicines and the establishment of birthing centers in places such as Leyte.

With health market innovations being introduced in the provinces, the Philippines can reach at least two Millennium Development Goals related to health, namely the reduction of child mortality and AIDS cases by 2015, Picazo said. The country’s only problem is reducing maternal mortality.

National Scientist Lourdes Cruz, meanwhile, discussed the importance of bringing research and science to indigenous peoples.

Cruz, also president of the National Research Council of the Philippines, discussed several projects such as the pictorial guide to the Bataan National Park, co-authored by botanists and two Aeta natives with extensive knowledge of plants in the area.

She cited plans to utilize biodiversity in the provinces to bring innovations that will improve the lives of indigenous peoples, including tree-planting projects, installation of pumps for more effective irrigation, and coffee-planting projects.

She also proposed the planting of mangroves around the shores to absorb the impact of storm surges, which the province of Leyte experienced during the onslaught of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

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Minimally funded

Cruz lamented the government’s small budget allocation to research and development. Although the country’s economy is improving, the budget allocation for research and development is only about 0.11 to 0.14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or the value of goods and services produced by the economy.

To have a strong research and development program, at least one percent of GDP must be allocated, she said.

Cruz deplored Filipinos’ apparent lack of interest in science, noting that the field got little appreciation before the introduction of Project NOAH of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Project NOAH, or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, is a program utilizing high-end technologies and tools to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters.

Maribel Nonato, assistant to the rector for research and innovation, emphasized that one’s objective in doing research should not only be to get published, but to look for ways to serve the community. Research is “doing community service,” she added.

“[The Research Week] is basically opening the eyes of the researchers that you can do basic research, but at the same time you can think of your research to serve the society,” she said in an interview.

Research Week featured an exhibit of research posters and a series of seminars and crash courses on writing research papers.

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