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WHERE ARE WE GOING, UPMASA? 

By Dr. Cecile Pasion-Bregman, Chair, Board of Governors

 

I was asked to write an article as Chair of the Board of Governors, 2021-2023, so I figured that this is the best time for me to explain my goals as BOG Chair.

UPMASA has grown significantly from its inception in 1980. As of 10/15/21, we now have 17 Chapters and 2,445 active members.  From the recent treasurer’s report: “The total current assets with UPMASA are $11,865,694.00 from January to September 2021. The total income from January to September was $1,143,984.25. The total expenses from January to September were $1,216,917.32.”

For the academic year 2021-2022, we have a total of 87 scholars. We have different projects that we continue to support- Medical Missions, Operation Braveheart, Laptops for Doctors to the Barrios, Disaster Relief, Community pantry initiatives and the Mars Custodio HIV Memorial Fund, to name a few. We completed the funding for the Medical Student Building UPMASA Auditorium and Operation Wildfire. The latest projects we’re supporting are the Co- Operasyon Rural Surgery Program, the UP Los Banos fight against COVID 19 and the medical student Research grant. Suffice it to say, UPMASA is financially stable, and our leadership team has been a good steward of its finances.

In keeping with global advancements, the UP College of Medicine, UP-Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila, and the University of the Philippines System have grown by leaps and bounds. The newest endeavors are to expand the reach of UP medical education and practice to other regions in the country, so the rest of our countrymen can make use of their expertise without having to travel to Manila. This has led to the establishment of UP-PGH in Clark City, Tarlac, the University Health System in Palo Alto, Leyte, the planned UP-PGH in Diliman, and UPCM in Mindanao (will be in Davao). Please read articles from Chancellor Padilla and Dean Chiong for more details on all of these.

With all these big and exciting plans on the horizon, UPMASA is poised to play a big role in all these endeavors through the expertise and willingness of our members. UPMASA is committed to promoting the art and science of medicine and elevating the standard of medicine for the welfare of our people. So, I envision UPMASA doing collaborative work with other entities toward achieving these goals.

In fact, the monthly research forum, “Expanding the Edge of Philippine Medicine”—an UPMASA initiative in collaboration with UPCM and Philippine Scientists Associations—has an audience of not just UP professionals but also deans from other medical schools in the Philippines, UPCM students, and even high school students. UPMASA also initiated the idea of establishing a full-time faculty private practice in PGH several years ago, and it is now being actively discussed and planned for by the UP-PGH administration.

To achieve more collaborative work, I see the need for UPMASA to prepare itself from within. We need to examine our governance, set our policies clearly, and align our procedures with our constitution and by-laws. At the same time, we need to strengthen our anchor, which is our chapters and their membership. It is through our membership that we find willing academics, researchers, scientists, leaders, and generous donors. The different chapters and committees need to work together toward a common goal. Through pursuing these goals, we can emerge as a strong and united organization ready to provide our expertise, service, and treasure to others, especially our kababayans. For after all, we are the Iskolars ng Bayan and para saan ang ating dunong kundi para sa ating bayan pa.

OUR MOST GENEROUS SCHOLARSHIP DONORS

Making a Difference in Students’ Lives Hundreds at a Time

During this holiday season, we give thanks to the generous munificence of the late Dr. Emilia Salanga and Dr. Necita Roa.   Members are called to reflect on these legacies and consider bestowing one for themselves for the future of our alma mater and beloved institution.  More challenges are coming especially with the UP College of Medicine’s edge spreading to UPCM Diliman, UPCM Clark, and UPCM Mindanao.  The Legacies Committee’s task increases but with your support, UPMASA will meet all these challenges.  — Henry Echiverri MD ‘81

 

 

 

An UPMASA Scholar who has Arrived!

 

Dear Dr. Gomez and Dr. Redmon,

You may not remember me, but I am one of your UPMASA scholars from UPCM Batch 2014. I received an annual grant amounting to USD 1,000 from 2010 until the year I graduated in 2014. I am currently spring cleaning my old main email (jason_alacapa@yahoo.com) when I stumbled on our old communications. I am sending an email to express my extreme gratitude for the support you have given me. I am proud to update you that your investments have gone a long way in terms of helping the Filipino people.
I am now practicing purely public health, with a specialization on 1) Tuberculosis & Health Systems Strengthening, 2) Health Technology Assessment & Economic Evaluation, 3) Digital Health & Innovation, and 4) Implementation Science. You can know more about my summary profile in my LinkedIn account. 

I have also established two firms, an NGO called Innovations for Community Health (ICH), focusing on Tuberculosis, and a consulting firm called metaHealth, focusing on health economics for the Philippines’ Universal Healthcare Law. ICH has received around USD 4 Million amount of grants since I founded it in 2019. We have active grants from USAID, The Global Fund, Stop TB Partnership, and others. From just me in 2019, we do have over 150+ staff in various regions in the Philippines. I have linked our websites below, but the ICH website is due for updating. Our social enterprise arm (Kalinga Health) is highlighted on our current website, but our grants portfolio is also large.

In terms of education, I was fortunate to pursue further studies, under full scholarship grants

  • Asian Institute of Management – MBA (2015-2016) 
  • The University of New South Wales (a top 50 world school, based in Sydney) – Dual MPH in Economic Evaluation and Master in Health Management (2017-2018)
  • Johns Hopkins University – DrPH in Implementation Science (on-going dissertation Phase) (2020-2023) – This is a part-time, primarily online degree. I am based in Manila.

I am immensely grateful for your help. Napakalaki po ng utang na loob ko sa inyo. True to my promise, ibinabalik ko po sa bayan ang mga binigay niyo po sa akin. 

May the Almighty bless you with more.

Sincerely,

Jason Alacapa MD, UPCM 2014

UPMASA: Giving Thanks to our Legacies

By Henry Echiverri, MD ‘81

 

Whenever something significant happens, for the most part, we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing at that moment in time.   For instance, I was in a sari-sari Store across UP High School straining to look through the grilled window to catch a glimpse of the ghostly figure of the first moon landing.     I was at the OR of PGH Department of Surgery, assisting a notoriously slow Senior Resident finish a case when we heard Ninoy Aquino was shot at the Tarmac of the airport.  These were indeed ‘significant events’ that changed the course of history.

There was one instant I still vividly recall but did not know at that time that it was going to be as significant of an event.  I was at the Neuro-ICU attending a sick stroke patient and was constantly bothered by annoying telemarketers.  Most of them I ignored but something compelled me to answer my cell to one of the unrecognized call and nastily blurted “Hello, this is the FBI, what do you want?”    A calm and kind voice answered and asked if I was Henry Echiverri of “ap-ma-sa”.  Quickly, she explained she was looking for someone she could talk to about a person’s estate being given to U-P-m-a-s-a, she spells it this time.   I started to listen some more and gathered that she was serious about a certain sum of money being given to UPMASA.  Being the one in-charge of the UPMASA Website, I guess my name was most visible.  I quickly realized that this was a money matter so I referred the call to the Finance Committee, and I guess the rest is history and this became quite a significant event, forever linked to that now infamous “this is the FBI” – the Dr. Emilia Salanga Estate bequest that UPMASA received. 

Sitting at our Covid lockdown converted home office, while typing my notes on a recently concluded Telemedicine visit, I eavesdropped at my wife Susan’s conversation over the phone.  She was informed by the person on the other line representing Wells Fargo, the trustee of our late Dr. Necita Roa’s Foundation Trust designated UPMASA as a beneficiary and as such, tasked to execute the trust’s instructions.

Because of the Dr. Emilia Salanga largesse, the initial drawdown of $98,000 came in time during 2020 pandemic when not only did several additional scholars benefited from it, but it allowed UPMASA to raise the total funding per scholar to $1500 per year.  In addition, allowance to purchase much needed laptop per scholar was given to all, as the traditional classroom lectures transitioned to remote online teaching.  

In December 2020, the UPMASA Board was informed that the Dr. Necita Roa MD Charitable Foundation (NRMDCF) court appointed trustee, Wells Fargo, that UPMASA will be expecting $68,000 in 2021.  UPMASA being tasked to execute the instructions of the Trust, an Adhoc Committee of the Necita Roa Fund was convened and immediately went to task.

Unlike the Salanga Trust, which limits its distribution specifically for scholarships of medical students of UP College of Medicine in greater metro Manila, the Necita Roa Trust instructions allowed for a broader scope of coverage. 

The primary mission of the Necital Roa MD Charitable Foundation is to provide financial assistance to native Filipinos who wish to become doctors or other medical professionals in the area of health sciences, including, but not limited to one or more of the following

  1. Providing scholarships for medical school or other medical education training. 
  2. Purchasing or providing textbooks and/or training supplies necessary for medical school and/or other medical education training; or 
  3. Providing interest free loans to attend medical school or other qualified medical educational training in hopes that those who go on to prosper from medical employment and who have the ability to repay their loans will be a renewing source of funding for the charitable purposes of the Foundation. 

One particular provision struck us close to our hearts: “The charitable beneficiary, in such beneficiary’s sole and absolute judgment, shall select recipients I would financially support if I were able to do so.”   Having known Necita on a personal level because of our work with the Board of Governors and medical missions, I’ve heard her many times talk about these visions of her foundation before her unexpected passing. 

The Adhoc Committee on Necita Roa fund identified the initial recipient of this windfall.  This was the School of Health Sciences in Palo, Leyte. 

University of the Philippines Manila School of Health Sciences (SHS) currently located in PALO, Leyte has extension campuses in Baler, Aurora (Quezon) and Koronadal, South Cotabato. Another extension is now being opened in Tarlac. The SHS offers “step-ladder” curriculum where each student starts at a single point and exits at various levels with varying competencies, first as Community Health Worker (CHW), or Midwife then sequentially as Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and eventually as Doctor of Medicine (MD).[4][9] Admissions to this innovative program depend on the needs of the community and the desire of the student to do community work.[6] Rural communities nominate who will be the student assigned to them. 

  1. 80% retention rate – they return to their community 
  2. 90% reach the Nursing level 
  3. 10% reaches the MD level 
  4. Passing rate in the Boards at all levels – higher than national passing rate 
  5. NMAT 40 to be accepted to the Medicine program (National level is 50) 

Originally conceived as a Local Government supported program, most students will not have the support or have very little support. The Chancellor was able to get some funding, but it is still not enough. 

Financial Assistance is a chronic problem for these students. Many return to communities as midwives or nurses to serve the community and not go back to get their MD degrees. Return of service commitment is a total of 18 years (2 years of service between levels). 

KORONADAL and BALER are able to provide the first 2 steps: Midwifery and Nursing but those going to MD tract will all go to PALO, Leyte. 

Having found the SHS needs consistent with the Dr. Necita Roa MD Charitable Foundation (NRMDCF) Trust requirements, the Adhoc Committee awarded the Roa largesse to benefit 40 nursing students for the academic year of 2021-2022.

In July 2021 Board of Governors meeting during the annual AGC, the Adhoc Committee on Necita Roa Fund was elevated into a standing committee and was named Legacies Committee.  Having realized UPMASA’s fiduciary duty to ensure the proper execution of Trusts given to us, a second set of eyes through this Legacies Committee was conceived to handle large legacies to make sure instructions are carried out according to the provisions of the Trusts.  Both the Salanga and Roa legacies plus other future legacies, are henceforth placed under the umbrella of this committee

For this year academic year 2021-2022, at the UP College of Medicine in Manila, a total of 84 scholars, that includes those coming from the Permanent Endowment Fund and 34 Salanga Scholars will be supported.   19 new scholars will receive allowance for the needed laptop.  There will be 3 Salanga Scholarships awarded to those coming from the Regionalization Program. These 3 are from the subcategory of Indigenous People scholars.

Conceived 5 years ago, applicants to the UPCM are asked if they are interested to join the Regionalization Program. Applicant then linked with Community Liaison Officers who are often graduates of the UPCM who are thought leaders in the region (total of 13 regions). They will do the screening and then make final recommendations to the Admissions Office of UPCM who will make the final determination. 

Originally conceived that these students will receive Local Government Scholarships, this plan did not materialize, and students are left with NO support. If accepted, then these students apply for scholarship through the College or through DOST. >50% of these students come from families with <1M yearly income. 

Students in this program sign a legal Return of Service Contract and since the program started keeping contact with these graduates, it is established that there is an 80% retention rate (Students indeed return and remain in their regions after graduation).  There are 17 slots yearly (from 13 regions and 4 from Indigenous groups). A total of 230 candidates have passed through the regionalization program. 

This year, the Legacies Committee faced a unique problem.   As late as October when awarding was already closed, there were still 6 vacant ESS (Salanga Scholars).  The reason this happens is that some of the deserving students opted for the higher DOH (Dept of Health) Scholarship.  DOH scholars are prohibited from receiving other scholarships.

It was found that DOH scholars received the following allowances: 

  • Living subsidy- PhP 4,500 per month
  • Lodging allowance- PhP 3,000 per month
  • Transportation allowance- PhP 800 per month
  • Book allowance- PhP 12,100 per semester
  • Uniform allowance- PhP 3,025 per semester
  • Miscellaneous allowance- PhP 5,500 per semester
  • Annual Medical Insurance- PhP2,400 per year, to be paid directly to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

This roughly translates to approximately $2500 per year.  The scholars are required to do 2 years of work in Public Health for every 1 year of scholarship received.    The UPMASA scholarship without the Salanga supplement was $1200 per scholar. This increased to $1500 last year.  The committee meeting concluded with available funds, raising the scholarship to $2000/year was approved by the BOG during its October 2021 session to be in keeping with the DOH without return of service commitment. 

Finally, the Legacies Committee mandated that any surplus amounts each year that is not awarded shall be pooled into a Fund for FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE to be disbursed by UPMASA to specific students with extraordinary needs as recommended by the UP College of Medicine and will be known as Financial Assistance Fund for Students.

Those phone calls received from the Salanga estate and the Roa Wells Fargo lawyers were indeed ‘significant events’ that left an indelible impression on amygdaloid neurons of my memory, knowing exactly what I was doing at the moment they happened.  As you can see, it changed the course of UPMASA’s history.

 

 

UPMASA and Research

Creativity and Destiny

By Silverio Cabellon, Jr., MD

 

The destiny of a Nation depends on its creativity.   In an afternoon meeting with the Postgraduate Education and Faculty Development Committee in July 2017 in Dallas, Texas, UP President Danilo Concepcion took note that the Philippines does not have any CRSPR technology yet. The UP President additionally took note that the Philippines does not have a Nobel Prize winner.

In July 2021, the Research Committee set out its objectives.

  1. Help identify the needs of the UP College of Medicine/PGH in Research
  2. Establish a Research Fund, defining its purpose and use.
  3. Assure the proper administration of research funds
  4. Identify Alumni involved in academia and research 
  5. Coordinate with Alumni to give Lectures pertaining to research
  6. Seek funding opportunities from Government, International Institutions, and Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries 
  7. Support the establishment of international collaborations
  8. Support the establishment of Philippine research institutions
  9. Stage the presentation of research findings.

In the same manner, as the moon changes its brightness, a Research Forum shines on the last Monday of the month with “Expanding the Edge of Philippine Medicine. With the UP Physician Scientists Association headed by President Joana Marie Cruz MD, Rajiv Rojo, MD, and Maria Llaine Callanta, MD

On October 19, 2021, received information from Dr. Leslie Dalmacio that the Research Forum will be attended by students, residents, and fellows when they are not involved with needed patient care.

  1.  Monthly Research Forums: Expanding the Edge of Philippine Medicine
  2. First, Francis Cordova, MD presented on Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells for the Nervous System on August 31, 2021
  3. Second, 2 Rowena Crisitina Guevarra, Undersecretary for Research and Development, Department of Science and Technology presented on the Philippine Virology Institute on September 28, 2021
  4. Third, Ana Joy Padua, presented on Immunophenotyping by flow cytometry” in HIV patients on October 25, 2021

Last November 22, in front of medical students of the UP College of Medicine Dr. Ronald B. Corley, Executive Director of Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL), presented on the rigors of the establishment of a biosafety laboratory. The students were joined by fellows and residents with their Training Directors and Vice Chairs for Research of the respective Departments.

All 57 Deans of Philippine Medical Schools from Cagayan in the North to Zamboanga in the south joined

Campus Directors, Faculty, and Students of Philippines Science High Schools attended.

On December 15, Dr. Regina Berba of the Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine will expound on the efficacy of Vaccine Deployed in the Philippines against Covid.

During PGH Research in early November 2021, we learned that the Philippine General Hospital has a PHP 30 million budget for research available to the Clinical Departments. 

UPMASA aims to enhance this funding. UPMASA has registered with Grants.gov and will be ready to apply for grants from the US NIH and USAID.  Grants opportunities will also be available from the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Pfizer, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the American Society for Hematology.  In the Philippines, the Philippine Coconut Authority has funded studies on Virgin Coconut Oil.

International Collaborations are being forged and established.

  1. Dr, Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, introduced to remote engagement faculty of the Balik Scientist Program with UP Medical Alumni in the United States.
  2. Meeting with Dr. Charles Dela Cruz, facilitated by Dr. Ulysses Magalong for research opportunities at Yale for MD-PhD Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows.  The Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines will fund for one year the travel, lodging, and living expenses of MD-PhD students completing their project abroad. The research facility, equipment, and material will be provided by the Research Institution. 
  3. Facilitated the meeting between Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development and Robert O’Connell, Commander, of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research through the Office of Dean Eric Elster, School of Medicine, and Colonel Wanda Salzer Associate Dean for Research Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The Meeting occurred on September 23, 2021.

Who are the actors of this collaborative effort?

On the Philippine side they are Chancellor Carmencita Padilla MD, Dean Charlotte Chiong MD, Vice Chancellor Armando Crisostomo MD, Director Gerardo Legaspi MD, Dr. Leslie Michelle Dalmacio, Dr. Marissa Alejandria, Dr. Mark Sandoval, Dr. Jean Toral, and Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz

On UPMASA’s side, they are

Lourdes Publico, MD President, UPMASA
Chair, Board of Governors, UPMASA
Cecile Pasion-Bregman MD
Silverio Cabellon, Jr., MD Chair, Research Committee, UPMASA
Emmanuel Besa, MD Vice-Chair
Enrique Ostrea, MD Member
Vince Faustino, MD Member
Alex Drilon, MD Member
Victoria Herrera, MD Member
Raniv Rojo, MD Member
Felicitas Lacbawan, MD Member
Ulysses Magalang, MD Member
Francisco Sy, MD Member
Francisca Velcek, MD Member
Ian Soriano, MD Adviser

What is the direction of the Research Committee?

The first is to support the MD Ph.D. of the UP College of Medicine to increase the number of creative scientists.  The second is to establish a collaborative effort of all in Philippine Medicine to solve the health needs of the Philippines

The Research Committee means to get involved in breakthrough research in the prevention of viral disease and implementing personalized medicine for all disease categories.

The Research Committee means to catalyze the Expansion of the Edge of Philippine Medicine.