After a long and tedious process, President Benigno Aquino III signed the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) bill into law on 7 May 2013.
Republic Act 10532, also known as Philippine National Health Research System Act of 2013 institutionalizes the establishment of health research system in the country which was first created through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Health (DOH) in 2003 and 2007, aimed to improve the health status, productivity and the quality of life of Filipinos through health research and development (R&D) initiatives.
Under the new law, the PNHRS is composed of a Governing Council (GC), a Technical Working Group (TWG) and the PNHRS secretariat. The GC members include the secretary of DOST (Chair), the secretary of DOH (Co-chair), the chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Manila (UPM), the executive director of the National Nutrition Council (NNC), the executive director of Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and five representatives from the private sector.
The GC’s main powers and functions are to set policies and directions for the country’s health R&D, review and approve long-term plans and programs, evaluate and approve the country’s health research priorities under the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA), and among others.
Meanwhile, the TWG, represented by the health research stakeholders is mandated to develop and monitor the PNHRS’ strategic plans based on the country’s health research needs and the building blocks of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the attainment of universal health care. While the secretariat will perform the oversight functions for the smooth implementation of the PNHRS’ programs and projects which is headed by the executive director of PCHRD.
The new law also strengthens the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB), the national policy making body on health research ethics, created under the DOST Special Order (SO) No. 091 in 2006, mandated to ensure all phases of research shall adhere to the universal ethical principles that value the protection and promotion of dignity of health research participants in the country.
PNHRS law aims to promote good governance among health research organizations through efficient, effective, transparent and ethical health research management system, engage in national and international partnerships and networks for health research development and ensure sustainability of resources for health research in the country.