Water sanitation and hygiene, adolescent sexuality and reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS—these are the three health research areas identified by the researchers, the medical community, LGUs, and non-government organizations as topmost concerns in the region during the multi-sectoral consultative workshop of the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) and Department of Science and Technology Caraga for the updating of the Regional Unified Health Research Agenda (RUHRA) and the National Health Research Agenda (NUHRA) for 2017-2022.

The National Unified Health Research Agenda is a 6-year policy of health research priorities which serves as the country’s template for health research and development efforts for the country. Regional consultative workshops are facilitated by PNHRS to ensure that the NUHRA aligns to the health research areas developed in the RUHRA. The workshop uses inclusive and bottom-up approach to ensure that all needs from the key stakeholders are addressed. The eighteen regional priority areas identified during the workshop are:

  1. Water Sanitation and Hygiene
  2. Adolescent Sexuality and Reproductive Heealth
  3. HIV/AIDS
  4. Disaster Risk Reduction and Management
  5. Substance abuse
  6. Non-communicable diseases
  7. Food quality and safety
  8. Mining and health
  9. Tropical infectious Diseases
  10. Child Health and Nutrition
  11. Solid Waste management
  12. Health Service Delivery
  13. Tuberculosis
  14. Government Health Financing
  15. Mental Health
  16. Indigenous People’s Health
  17. Health Regulation
  18. Human Resources for Health

Unlike other regions, Caraga does not have enough medical schools. According to the Sherwin Vernun, Senior Economic Development Specialist of NEDA Caraga, the researchers in Caraga should focus on these priority areas instead. Previous health research priorities focuses on the health services, health care financing, good governance in health, health regulation and health research ethics. Dr. Weng Varela, VP for Research and Extensions at Caraga State University, further explained that SUCs and HEIs have existing researches related to the priority areas crafted for 2017-2022, this workshop has become an effective avenue to update the RUHRA and align it to the existing researches of institutions for the Caraga Health Research and Development Consortium (CHRDC) to expand its funding to these research sectors.

Dr. Zhamir Umag, head of the Mindanao Cluster for the Alliance for Improving Health Outcomes, Inc. (AIHO), important health related problem areas need to be address in the region /agenda or otherwise it will be just an agenda. There is also a need to focus on the technical capacity to do the undertakings of the research.

The last part of the RUHRA focused on the action plan which addressed the issues and concerns raised by the participants. It also included dissemination, monitoring and evaluation. Advocates for every health research priority area were also identified for every sector.

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