By Allan Mauro V. Marfal
The challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic will not prevent the entire scientific community from showcasing its latest innovative products and services that would be significantly useful and relevant to every Filipino.
From 23-29 November, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be at the forefront again by staging the 2020 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration in virtual mode for the first time in history. Carrying the theme, “Agham at Teknolohiya: Sandigan ng Kalusugan, Kabuhayan, Kaayusan, at Kinabukasan“, it aims to highlight the efforts and initiatives of DOST and the entire scientific community in the area of research and development; practical technologies; innovation in agriculture, industry, and health; technical services and trainings; and financial assistance to entrepreneurs to help every Filipino adapt to COVID-19 under the new normal.
All technologies and services to be featured by DOST agencies and regional offices, academe, and private sectors in the virtual exhibit will be anchored on the 4Ks referring to the thrust of the Duterte Administration in addressing the pandemic] mentioned in this year’s theme. Likewise, several webinars and other virtual activities will take the spotlight during the seven-day festivity.
In the previous NSTW celebrations, all techno-exhibits and activities were usually held for five days either at the SMX Convention Center or at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
Moving the annual NSTW celebration from July to November
From 1993 until 2019, the NSTW has been celebrated during every third week of July pursuant to Proclamation 169. However, in August 2019, by virtue of Proclamation 780 signed by President Rodrigo “Roa” Duterte, the NSTW celebration will now be conducted every fourth week of November. The change of date was meant to ensure “maximum participation” of schools, students, stakeholders, and the public during the week-long celebration due to the change in the academic calendar of most universities, schools, and educational institutions.
The 2020 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) banner signifies the thrust of the DOST and the entire science community to adapt to the new normal by harnessing the power of innovation in the four thematic areas, namely: Kalusugan, Kabuhayan, Kaayusan and Kinabukasan. (Photo from DOST-TAPI)
DOST-FNRI nutrition survey aids health workers address malnutrition in MIMAROPA
The prevalence of stunting among children under five years old in the Philippines has greatly improved from 33.4% in 2015 to 30.3% in 2018. However, to meet the 2022 Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) target of 21.4% reduction in stunting and the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target of zero malnutrition, a 2.2 and 2.5 percentage point decrease, respectively, in stunting per year have to be achieved.
To address this, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FNRI) conducted the Virtual Stakeholders Forum in Region IV-B or MIMAROPA on 08 September 2020.
The highlight of the forum was the presentation of the recent results of the Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS), food technologies ready for transfer and commercialization, and the technology transfer and commercialization procedures.
Results of the ENNS will serve as scientific basis in guiding nutrition officers and frontliners like the BNS (Barangay Nutrition Scholars) and BHWs (Barangay Health Workers) in the implementation and evaluation of nutrition and health programs in the region. The BNS and BHWs are being trained by the DOST-FNRI under the DOST- PINOY Malnutrition Reduction Program.
Participants in the forum included regional, provincial, city and municipal nutrition officers as well the BNS and BHWs in MIMAROPA region.
For more information on the ENNS, nutritious and fortified food technologies or other food and nutrition concerns, contact: Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, Officer in-Charge, Office of the Director, DOST-FNRI, FNRI Building, DOST Compound, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City, Metro Manila.
Furthermore, to promote its advocacy on proper nutrition, the DOST-FNRI, in cooperation with the DOST regional and provincial offices in MIMAROPA region, are also pushing for the adoption of innovative food technologies that can produce nutritious food products like complementary foods and the Enhanced Nutribun that the agency developed.
The Enhanced Nutribun and other innovative food products can be adopted by the Department of Education (DepEd) for their school feeding program and can also be included in the food packs distributed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for their programs.
The production of the Enhanced Nutribun will provide alternative livelihood opportunities for complementary food processing centers and bakery workers, farmers as sources of raw materials like rice, mongo, and squash plus other related suppliers and service providers.
Interested parties may also call the direct telephone lines: 837-2934, 837-3164; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the website: www.fnri.dost.gov.ph; Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Salvador R. Serrano, DOST-FNRI S&T Media Service)
Manufacturing and wholesale-retail trade are critical sectors during pandemic, study says
The other manufacturing, retail-wholesale trade, and government services are the top three economic sectors that are critical during the pandemic, based on a study on “Mitigating Economic Losses from COVID-19: Insights from Input Output Analysis,” which was presented in a webinar on “COVID-19: Where We Are and Where We Want To Be.” The research looks at the economies of both Malaysia and the Philippines.
Analyzing the five factors: economic impact, connectivity, sector size, income multiplier, and employment, the researchers identified the critical sectors for the economies of both countries. The mathematical models they developed account for network effects, where changes in a particular sector cause “ripple effects” in other sectors of the economy.
“When a firm goes bankrupt, it disappears from the economic picture. The question is, how far below normal can a certain economic sector dip, because percentage-wise, below a certain threshold level, bouncing back to pre-pandemic level becomes difficult or even impossible,” Raymond Tan, a professor at DLSU and member of the research team, said.
Tan illustrated that economic sectors are not monolithic entities, but consists of individual firms. In a given crisis like a pandemic, what happens for instance, in hotels and restaurants, is that these large number of corporate entities might end up going bankrupt because of percentage loss of business, and it is this percentage or fraction of loss that is significant.
The tourism and travel industry are among the extremely hard-hit sector this pandemic, but sectors such as telecommunications, finance, logistics and delivery are booming.
The enhanced input-output model of analysis can help the government identify the critical economic sectors to be prioritized, so that given the limited resources, the government would know where to distribute the stimulus package across sectors of the economy to maximize the benefits. This model was developed by Krista Danielle Yu, another member of the research team for the Philippines’ side.
The team presented several scenarios for computer-aided allocation of economic stimulus, a scientific approach to maximize the social benefits per Peso spent. Effective exit strategies are needed to revive economies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Philippine economy has been doing good, due to sustained decades-worth of over 6% growth in GDP. However, there’s been a 16.5% contraction during the second quarter of the year because of the pandemic. Compared, though, with Malaysia’s drop in GDP by about 20% during lockdown, the country fared slightly better.
“There will be limited resources, but with the use of computer models and with the best available techniques, we can make better decisions and restart the economy in the best way possible,” Tan said, acknowledging the importance of a scientifically-based policy support for planning in the government, which has been what the Department of Science and Technology has been doing.
The research was based on outputs from a project supported by a special COVID-19 grant from Heriot-Watt University’s Global Challenges Research Fund (CGRF). The project involved a team of researchers led by Dr. Viknesh Andiappan from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, University of Nottingham Malaysia, and De La Salle University.
For more scientific-based discussions on COVID-19, the public can go to the Facebook Page, NAST PHL of the National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST), an agency of DOST. (Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service)