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Philippine Digital Healthcare System Boosted with Australian Partnership

Collaborative studies in science and technology have the potential of easing the burden as well as producing more impressive results. That may not be more applicable than these days with countries being deeply impacted by the onslaught of the virus. The Philippines is partnering with a premier Australian institute to do joint research and upgrade its digital health system with the latest tools in ICT. According to the DOST, the new partnership with RMIT is for scientific cooperation.

The Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia have agreed to work together on digital health programs. This should provide needed results given that the collaboration is planning to use the latest emerging technology.

DOST sees this as an important area for innovation in the Philippines, especially with our current experiences in addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Telemedicine, for instance, played a huge role as an alternative means of healthcare delivery in the past year. This innovation may also be expanded to provide healthcare services to more Filipinos in far-flung communities.

Rowena Guevara, Undersecretary, Department of Science and Technology

Moreover, Rowena disclosed both parties may also pursue cooperation in developing a virtual healthcare system that employs the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in interpreting health data. She acknowledged that the Philippines is yet to develop a broad individual and institutional capacity in telemedicine. Thus, the DOST hopes that its partnership with RMIT would result in capacity-building programs, such as scholarships and training for the Filipino people and institutions.

The partnership would enable the Philippines to maximise the benefits of these technologies, Guevara added. She acknowledged that RMIT carries a strong curriculum and instruction in health science, including allied fields which are complemented by their modern facilities for health education.

To facilitate the collaboration, Guevara, along with other DOST officials, conducted a scientific visit to Australia this month to strengthen established partnerships with Australian institutions, and to connect with other institutions of common interest.

However, the deal is still in its initial stages. Guevara shared that the details of the partnership have yet to be fleshed out by their concerned councils in separate meetings with their counterparts in RMIT in the coming months. Thus, they hope to keep the ball rolling, particularly in their capacity-building programs on digital health.

Meanwhile, the official said that through the scientific visit, the DOST was able to jumpstart initial discussions with Australian institutions for possible partnerships, with some institutions expressing their willingness to formalise the cooperation.

It’s definitely a big step forward as these agreements could facilitate STI (science, technology, innovation) partnerships in areas such as digital health, sustainable mineral processing and mine restoration and rehabilitation, bioengineering, and new technologies for coral reef restoration, among others.

DOST has an existing partnership with James Cook University and the Swinburne University of Technology. Some of the research taken up are emerging diseases and tropical diseases, Internet of Things (IoT), agriculture, and food security; as well as marine science scholarships and sandwich programs in the field of biomedical engineering. Certainly, the collaboration between these two countries, Australia and the Philippines is bound to push forward the digital transformation.

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