Know the common blood diseases and nutrients for healthy blood

Blood plays important functions for the body. Composed of plasma, white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, blood circulates through our body and transports oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removes waste from the cells.

As we celebrate Blood Diseases Month by virtue of the Proclamation No. 1833 declared by the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2009, here are some common blood diseases and ways to keep your blood healthy:

Common blood diseases

  • Anemia, the most common blood disorder in the general population, is a condition in which the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein inside the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.

A person with anemia experiences shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, headache, chest pain, dizziness, pale skin, and insomnia.

In treating anemia, the primary aim is to increase the number of healthy red blood cells in the body. Depending on the type of anemia, common treatment for anemic persons includes iron supplements intake, change of diet, blood transfusions, and chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant.

  • Hemophilia is a genetic disorder which affects the blood's ability to clot due to low levels of blood-clotting proteins.

Signs and symptoms of hemophilia varies on the levels of clotting factor. People with mild deficiency may bleed after a surgery or trauma, while in severe cases, spontaneous bleeding occurs.

There is no cure yet for this condition. The only treatment available for hemophilia is replacement therapy wherein, concentrates of clotting factor VIII (for hemophilia A) and IX (for hemophilia B) are slowly dripped or injected into the vein. This helps in replacing the defective clotting factor of the blood.

  • Leukemia is a type of cancer which affects the blood and bone marrow. The cancer happens when the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. These cells overpower the healthy blood cells and continue to increase and occupy more space, making it hard for healthy white blood cells to function normally.

Leukemia comes with two different types- acute and chronic.  Acute leukemia grows rapidly while chronic leukemia grows slowly.  

The causes of leukemia are still unknown. However, there are some factors that increases the risk of developing the cancer such as exposure to radiation and chemicals like benzene, cigarette smoking, hair dyes, family history of the same case, and genetic disorders such as down syndrome. Early signs of this condition include weight loss, fevers or chills, frequent infections, bone and joint pain, bleeding and bruising problem, tiredness, and weight and appetite loss.

Treatment for this condition depends on the type of leukemia and the person's health treatment capability. Types of treatment involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immune therapy, stem cell therapy, and surgery.

Nutrients for healthy blood

Changing your lifestyle especially your diet could help keep your blood on track and healthy.  Foods rich in iron, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin A, and vitamin B9 are essential in order for your blood to function well.

Iron is an important nutrient that increases the production of red blood cells. Food rich in iron are red meat, organ meat, beans, cereals, tofu, dark chocolate, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and cabbage.

Vitamin A is essential in normal development of stem cells into red blood cells. It is also needed for the immune system to function normally and actively. Foods rich in vitamin A include carrots, tuna fish, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and dark leafy green vegetables such as kale and lettuce.

Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is a water-soluble vitamin which supports glucose and protein metabolism. It also supports the production of hemoglobin, a protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Vitamin B6 is essential in nurturing and maintaining blood health. This vitamin can be found in chicken, bananas, tomatoes, whole grains, nuts, green beans, liver, and fish.

Vitamin B9 or folic acid helps in protein metabolism and RNA/DNA production and repair. It is vital in making red blood cells. Best sources of folate include nuts, dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce, and edible greens such as asparagus, beans, and breads.

Vitamin B12 keeps nerve tissues healthy and sustain blood cell production. Animal products such as fish, red meat, eggs, and dairy products like milk and cheese naturally contains vitamin B-12

Blood diseases could be very dangerous especially if not treated properly and immediately. Celebrating Blood Diseases Month serves as an avenue to raise people’s awareness and understanding of blood-related diseases.

In support with its advocacy of disseminating health research information, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development invites medical and research institutions and practitioners, universities, laboratories, and other partner institutions to publish their researches and other health-related information in Health Research and Development Information Network (HERDIN), an online database that enables online publishing, exchanging, and dissemination of quality health information in the Philippines.

For more information HERDIN and other blood-related researches, visit HERDIN’s website at http://www.herdin.ph/

Source: American Society of Hematology


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Written by Lemuel Basierto

“Learning does not end after graduation. It is a continuous journey that only those with receptive minds and humble hearts can embark on.” A practical advice from Dr. Arturo Dela Pena, Chief Executive Officer and President of St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) to the graduates of the 20th Commencement Exercises of St. Luke’s College of Medicine on 15 July 2018.

Four scholars namely Alexis Labrador, John Paul Llido, Neil Jade Palude, and Jerica Isabel Reyes earned their Master’s degree in Molecular Medicine under the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resources Development Program (ASTHRDP). ASTHRDP is a scholarship program offered by DOST-Science Education Institute, in partnership with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

Proving their excellence and commitment to science, the four scholars maintained good academic standing throughout their stay in the program. The scholars are very well versed in the studies of the latest biotechnologies such as cell-based therapies, gene-therapies, targeted therapies, biomarker technologies, molecular diagnostic, pharmacogenomics, and personalized medicine.

MS Molecular Medicine Program is a joint initiative of the DOST, through PCHRD, and SLCM which aims to produce adept laboratory researchers capable of pioneering innovative health researches as basis for future health policies. Indeed, through the program, the scholars were able to upgrade their skills for the application of molecular medicine in the clinical setting. More specifically, the students are able to obtain firm foundation in the bio medical sciences and relevant emerging technologies and receive training in a broad spectrum of the application of molecular medicine.

Every year, PCHRD search for potential scholars with great mind and vision in the hopes that their talent reinforced by education and training will benefit the health research and development agenda of the country particularly in molecular medicine. Now more than ever, we need more researchers and explorers that will find solutions to the health needs of the Filipinos through research and innovation.

For more information on DOST-PCHRD funded scholarships, visit www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph.


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Written by Catherine Joy C. Dimailig
Created: 18 September 2018

Misdiagnosis of parasitic infections remains a challenge in the Philippines, particularly in remote areas where medical technologists (MTs) may lack capacity on diagnostic parasitology. This is further complicated by the lack of a formal referral system where MTs can verify their diagnosis. Misdiagnosis results to non-treatment of patients, thereby contributing to continuing morbidity and infection transmission. Accurate and timely diagnosis of parasitic infections is essential to provide appropriate treatment, as well as to generate accurate data to support advocacy and policy formulation for the control and prevention of parasitic infections.

To address this challenge, a team from the College of Public Health and the National Telehealth Center in the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila, led by Dr. Vicente Belizario, Jr., developed and tested the Medical Teleparasitology (MTP) system through the grant provided by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

MTP uses information and communications technology (ICT) to provide a referral mechanism that links MTs in peripheral laboratories to a pool of expert diagnostic parasitologists. Through the MTP, the MTs registered in the system can send the digital image of the parasite and their initial diagnosis which are then verified by expert diagnostic parasitologists within 24 hours. Digital images of the parasites are stored in the image bank which can be accessed by MTs for future reference. MTs in the peripheral laboratories also send monthly reports of parasitic infections they have diagnosed.

Monthly reports are fed into a database which can generate the distribution of parasitic infections reported and of the laboratory and personnel capacity. These, in turn, may help inform strategies for prevention and control of parasitic infections. Enrolled users also have access to the Parasitology Forum, an online forum where users can discuss topics relevant to parasitology. Through these, MTP is able to support MTs in their critical role of providing accurate and timely diagnosis of parasitic infections.

The MTP system is currently implemented in Cordillera, Zamboanga, and Davao Regions. These were made possible through the support of the Department of Health-Regional Offices and other partners, such as the Saint Louis University-School of Medicine.

If you wish to know more about the MTP system, please visit the MTP site at https://mtp.telehealth.ph/site/ or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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Written by Catherine Joy C. Dimailig


With the goal of increasing awareness of the Research Utilization Committee (RUC) members from the region on barriers and opportunities in translating research into policy and strategies to affect change on current policy environment of the regional consortia members, three health research champions were invited to share their experiences on influencing health policy through research. Attended by 75 RUC members, policy influencers and communication practitioners, the preconference session was held as part of the 12th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week in Baguio City on 7 August 2018. 

In the morning session, three notable speakers and Alberto G. Romualdez, Jr. Health Research Award (AROHRA) winners namely, Dr. Ronald Matias (St.Luke’s Medical Center), Dr. Carmencita Padilla (UP Manila) and Dr. Mario V. Capanzana (DOST-FNRI) shared their journey of translating their research into policy.

Dr. Ronald Matias, Senior Scientist, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Quezon City, discussed the St. Luke’s Dengue Research Program on dengue surveillance, assessment and emerging technologies. As there are already existing policies by the WHO and DOH, implementation of dengue prevention and control should be accompanied by timely and innovative researches which are integrated into policy. With the goal of reducing the incidence of the disease, Dr. Matias emphasizes that research and development efforts must be converted into public health solutions.

Dr. Carmencita Padilla, Chancellor, University of the Philippines, Manila (UPM) highlighted the history of the National Newborn Screening Program from being a UPM and DOST-funded research project in 1996 to being the Newborn Screening Law (R.A. 9288) in 2004 as it went through the arduous process of policy-making. Dr. Padilla shared some strategies that can influence public policy which included: a) working with a collaborative, multi-disciplinary and persistent study group, b) having a range of effective communication strategies that must reach the public, the professionals and the policymakers, c) generating data and developing it into peer-reviewed publications to be used as basis for policy, d) engaging stakeholders and building public-private partnerships to create a multi-environment for easier adaptation, and e) identifying champions for policy development who will sponsor or lobby the advocacy.

Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) talked about undernutrition and its consequences not only at the individual but also at the national level. According to Dr. Capanzana, malnutrition, in its many forms, causes the country to lose around 1.5% of its GDP and also increase health costs. Research conducted by the FNRI has prompted the creation of the policy on Food Fortification as a way to mitigate micronutrient deficiency, a facet of malnutrition. Refinement of food fortification technology and studies on the efficacy of Iron-fortified Rice had been instrumental in technology transfer and commercialization of Iron-Fortified Rice as a Scaling-up strategy to also achieve food security.

In the afternoon session, a workshop was held for the participating members of the Regional Consortia for Health Research and Development. Each region was tasked to present a Research to Policy Plan involving one current or prospective research project using a template derived from the discussions in the morning session 



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Written by Catherine Joy C. Dimailig
Created: 03 September 2018


For communication collaterals to be effective, there are important principles one has to follow. Ms. Monika Ortega of Inventive Media, a top web developer and digital marketing strategist, shared five important lessons during the 12th Philippine National Health Research System Week Preconference session on 6 August 2018 in Baguio City.

1. Know who you are. In any communication strategy, you have to determine your institution’s brand DNA. The kind of tone, purpose, and language in your marketing collaterals should be consistent with the brand of your institution. Embed the brand such as logo or color of your institution in your collaterals. There should be consistency in your materials across all dissemination platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and website.

2. Know what you want. Before designing the material answer first the question, “What do you want your audience do after reading the information?” Remember, a human’s attention span is too short, only eight seconds. In a digital environment wherein the audience is bombarded with too much information given this limited time, your design must stand out to capture their attention. Message should be focused and clear to make the first impression lead to your desired action.

3. Understand your users. The more you know about the needs and concerns of your audience, the more you are guided with the kind of message you will convey in your materials. Always put yourself in the shoes of your audience. You can engage more people into your campaign when they can relate to you.

4. Understand your platform. Different platform requires different content. Social media platform requires different specifications for video, visual materials, among others. They also have different analytics to measure reach, engagement, or audience involvement. Accessibility of these social media platform on different device should always be kept in mind. Moreover, not all content should be shared in all your social media platform as each has its own kind of audience.

5. Design is everyone’s job. Not everyone is a designer but everyone should embrace design thinking. This means, as the user of the collaterals we can improve the quality of materials we will produce. We can always pre-test the collaterals and make refinements.



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Written by Ciaren H. Itulid
Created: 31 August 2018

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