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The Philippines Continues Leveraging ICT Solutions for Health Sector 

ICT is already widely recognised in the Philippines as an effective device for socio-economic upliftment. The role of ICT in nation-building is acknowledged in the 1987 Constitution. The Arroyo Administration’s Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) identifies information and communication technology (ICT) as a driver of job creation and investment.

The undeniable importance of ICT as a major driver of the Philippine economy and a critical tool for better governance, corporate performance, and individual achievement necessitated the creation of this Strategic Roadmap. This Roadmap would outline the Philippine government’s strategies and programmes, as well as signal the country’s determination and commitment to improving a vibrant, accessible, and world-class ICT sector.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) had recently announced that the country will continue to use information and communications technology (ICT) for health. It is said that ICT for health is one of the research priorities. Their main mission is to use ICT to bring health solutions closer to patients.

One of our goals in utilising ICT is to bring health solutions closer to the patients.

– The DOST Secretary

According to the DOST Secretary, the initiative objectives to create a website that will bring “aruga,” or care, closer to paediatric cancer patients. To accomplish this, a platform must be established that will provide the following services: a learning control system (LMS) with palliative care learning materials for healthcare professionals and primary caregivers of paediatric cancer patients; a paediatric oncology registry for health facility administrators; and a telemedicine platform for rural health units (RHUs), city health centres, and community health centres.

DOST Secretary said the DOST has been supporting this initiative. “To date, the LMS already catered to 225 healthcare institutions across the country, with 134 physicians enrolled to the Paediatric Palliative Care certification course, and 794 nurses registered to the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) certification course,” he said. These courses enhance the expertise of healthcare workers on palliative care services for paediatric cancer patients.

The DOST chief asserted that by leveraging ICT for health, experts can forecast the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), allowing them to provide inputs for strategies to combat or reduce the number of cases.

He stated that the team behind the DOST-funded Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeller for Early Disease Detection (FASSSTER) project had improved the FASSSTER application (app).

According to a DOST article, the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeller (FASSSTER) employs a web-based disease modelling and surveillance platform, which resulted in the projection of the future course of COVID-19 infections. With its success, other Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Artificial Intelligence-driven models and applications, such as Tracing for Allocation of Medical Supplies (TrAMS+) and Telepresence Terminals for COVID-19 Response Team, were supported and deployed.

The team had enhanced FASSSTER to generate predictive models for Covid-19, to forecast the number of confirmed cases at a given area and a specified period. It is mentioned that this will serve as a support tool for decision-makers in implementing evidence-based measures that will mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

The Department of Health has designated the technology as the official monitoring tool for Covid-19 in the country. “The team is still assisting the DOH in updating the models and analytics for continuous monitoring of Covid-19 by national agencies and local government units.” He spoke.

According to DOST Undersecretary, these two research projects are still relevant in addressing emerging healthcare issues. She added that the impact of ICT in overcoming healthcare barriers was made more apparent by Covid-19. “With this, we gladly supported the development of new ICT technologies. We hope that these projects were able to demonstrate how our support for ICT for health research, and R&D (research and development) as a whole, goes a long way, allowing us to address persisting health concerns,” she said.

The DOST undersecretary went on to say that the agency is committed to pushing for high-impact R&D that provides accessible health solutions for all Filipinos.

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