Making it Work: A Benchmarking Visit in RHRDC – XI
In order to live to its mandate of building healthy islands in the MIMAROPA Region, the GB approved the activity of doing the benchmarking visit to the older and more successful Regional Health Research Consortium in the country. Last May 20, 2015 the management Committee of the Consortium visited the Regional Health Research Consortium (RHRDC) XI in Davao City. The said activity was participated in by the Regional Director of DOST MIMAROPA and MHRDC Co-Chairperson, Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay; the Executive Director, Dr. Fe V. Ricon four (4) Committee Chairpersons, namely: Mr. Lester A. Añonuevo, Research and Development Committee; Mr. Marvin P. Plata, Regional Ethics Review Committee; Dr. Diosdado Zulueta, Capacity Building Committee and Ms. Katherine Sanchez-Escalona for the Research Information Dissemination AND Utilization Committee. Ms. Genoveva Viñas, Statistician of DOH MIMAROPA and Ms. Desiree Tarranco, Project Staff of MHRDC likewise joined the visit.
The team went to visit two institutional members and met with the Chair of Region XI Health Research DC. The two institutions visited were the University of the Immaculate Conception (UIC) and San Pedro College, two award-winning institutions in terms of quality health researches not only in the Region but also in the country. At UIC the group was met by Ms. Ludivina M. Porticos, Director, UIC Science Resource Center. Later, the group met with President of UIC Sr. Maria Marissa R. Viri
UIC is one of the founding members of RHRDC – XI.UIC’s experience with the consortium appears very positive and effective for the institution. Their health researches usually come from the faculty and students of BS Pharmacy and the medical technology and laboratory sciences. They mentioned that 60% of their faculty are into research, 20% of those into health research and surprisingly about 80% of the 60% are budding researchers. Ms. Porticos, added that young researchers are easier to develop and build.
To strengthen the researches of the institution, they have their Research and Publication office. Some of the researches they have were also mentioned such as their 2009 Inventory of Health Research, single Dose Oral Toxicity of Tawa-Tawa, some DOH collaborative researches and for private industries (e.g. APEX Mining Co., Inc.). Also, aside from in-house trainings, they send the researchers outside Davao, if possible abroad. They provide Incentives researchers for them to be motivated can be (1) researches get Php 10,000 if they present the research with certificate, (2) another Php 10,000 if published in international journals. Aside from the incentives researchers get, they have the honorarium that is given once the research is completed.
When asked about academic loads and whether faculty researchers are deloaded or the research activities are counted as overload, Ms. Porticos shared that with 3-5% increase in freshmen enrolment, researches choose to overload. They also do collaboration in their researches with other disciplinary fields which are either internal (campus-based) or external. The team had a walk-through of their functional laboratories.
The next institution visited by MHRDC was the San Pedro College (SPC). The school is known for their five-year curriculum in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the first in Mindanao. Also, the school offers BS. Medical Technology program and in 2003, they opened BS Pharmacy program.
Prof. Fatima May Tesoro, Faculty and Practicum Coordinator for BS Pharm talked about their successful attempts in the Gruppo Medica Award for Outstanding Undergraduate thesis. In the year 2011, they were asked to submit one entry and fortunately, it was awarded 5th place. They submitted again last 2012 and got to the Top 3; 2013, they got the Top award including the in 4th & 5th and recently, in 2014, they got the top three places. These students were guided by mentors from the school.
Ms. Tesoro also mentioned that their researches include that of product discovery and development anthropological characters of medicinal plants found in Davao City as the place has a wide range of indigenous plants. As outcome of their research, the school had developed its botanic garden.
They also have Research & Publication Office. The funding for their researches is from the institution. They also have multidisciplinary researches on the Davao River. Research utilization includes coming up with a book especially on the characterization of medicinal plants in Davao which is already finished. The school also shared that the strategy used to develop more is to require submission per researches department. They prioritize there research agenda based on their research manual and the NUHRA. They have less than a half of their faculty engaged in research but they also highlighted that they continue to encourage them to engage in research especially now that K-12 has been implemented. Their % of increase in student is about 6-8% per year.
Ms. Tesoro also explained the process before a research can be funded, such as:
1. Researchers meet there Dean to talk about concept paper/capsule proposal (2-3 pages);
2. Once finalized, forwarded to research & Publication Office (RPO);
3. Defend the concept paper;
4. Once approved, researchers will be asked to submit full blown proposals to the RPO;
5. Defend the full proposal;
7. Once approved, revision of papers;
8. Review of the Ethics Committtee;
9. Signing of Memorandum of Agreement;
10. ¾ of the fund will be released;
11. Data gathering of the research;
12. Once completed, final defense;
13. Revision of paper;
14. Fill up completion form for submission of completed paper and get the ¼ left from the fund agreed.
To incentivize research, they give are research bonus that is equivalent to one (1) month salary to the proponent if the research is finished on time. A monthly honorarium of ½ of the salary is also awarded to the proponent/s for the duration of the approved study.
Furthermore, they also do collaborative researches with two other schools or other agencies. The RPO may recommend to a faculty a research partner from other institutions or vice versa. Also, if they could not fund the entire project, they get partner institutions so that they could share resources.
As to their Call for Proposal, they are open any time of the year. They also base their prioritization with the NUHRA. According to SPC, if the proposal is not funded, they keep on recycling it for prioritization but they do not reject.
On the afternoon of May 20, the MHRDC benchmarking team meet the RHRDC XI Officers, composed of the Chairperson, Dr. Warlito C. Vicente, the Co-chairperson, Dr. Annabelle P. Yumang and the Committee Chairs of RHRDC – XI. The consortium is one of the 4 pioneering consortia in the country, established in 1985. They also talked about their organizational structure.
The RHRDC – XI has the Executive Management Committee or ExeComm and is composed by the Chairperson, Co-chairperson and the Committee Chairpersons that meet once a month. They are the ones that review proposals, initiate for proposal mechanisms, monitoring and validation of PCHRD-funded researches, collaborations and partnerships.
Their monitoring & validation of on-going projects are done per institution. They assign a focal person who gives update to the ExeComm. For the review of proposals, they assign a paper to the person with an expertise on the field and then once they meet, the assigned person will be asked to discuss the paper so that they would not exert more time reading. Their passion to develop quality researches have been proven true as they do not receive incentives/honorariums for their reviews.
They also have strategic planning. This planning is held every year to review their action plan and assess the alignment of their researches with the NHURA/RUHRA. An average of at least 3-4 researches are funded through the consortium every year.
For the utilization of the researchers by the consortium, they organize road shows with tarpaulins. Also, they have research presentations. They also join DOST organized-fair to promote the services the consortium can offer. Also, they are planning to have a newsletter.
They also shared the consortium’s humble awards such the “Most-up-to-date and quality website” and the RHRDC XI member-institutions bagging major Awards during the PNHRS System anniversary celebrations.
Dr. Vicente observed that the biggest challenge with MHRDC is the non-contiguous location of the provinces and the member-institutions. Furthermore, Dr. Vicente mentioned that the consortium need manpower exclusively dedicated to the consortium activities/programs. Convincing members to participate more actively can be done by updating them of what is going in the consortium. During meetings, it is a big factor that the representatives know what the consortium is talking about.
To expand their membership, they actively invite new members through a regular Call for Membership.