Strengthening Science and Technology for Health Research: Perspectives from Trade, Development, and Innovation

  • Paul Ernest N. de Leon
  • Reneepearl Kim P. Sales
  • Lester Sam A. Geroy
  • Jaifred Christian F. Lopez
Keywords: technology, science, health policy, research


Background. It has long been observed globally that the extent to which developing countries can achieve health targets depends on their capacity to generate, harness, and apply science and technology (S&T). Beyond the health sector, S&T contributes to development by providing a solid foundation for education, infrastructure, and economic progress. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) suggests a set of fundamental elements for an ideal S&T environment: knowledge generators, producers, infrastructures, and the policy instruments.

Objectives and Methods. Through document and secondary data review guided by the UNCTAD fundamental elements, this paper aimed to 1) provide an overview of the S&T policies in the country, 2) assess the country’s S&T status, 3) identify gaps and challenges, and 4) provide recommendations to strengthen the S&T environment in the country.

Results. The country’s set of policies in S&T has succeeded in attracting businesses, nurturing good governance, and applying necessary regulatory mechanisms that offers protection and incentives to innovation. While performance in Education & Research has improved, spending on research, patent applications, and journal publications lags regionally and globally. The country’s university-industry collaboration has been in decline since 2015. Between 2013 to 2015, innovations strongly enabled changes in business and organizational models. Data show that the country has been devoting increasing percentage of its GDP to Gross Capital Formation. Conversely, logistics performance has been decreasing. The country’s score for information and communication technology has been increasing since 2013. Since 2014, the density of newly registered business has remained stagnant.

Conclusion. Policies implemented through the years in the Philippines have managed to balance strengthening infrastructure capacity while increasing translation and uptake of new knowledge and technologies by enterprises. The country’s S&T performance has remained largely stagnant despite the availability of human capital. The Philippines has devoted low funding to research and development, indicating the low priority that it has for S&T. This is manifested in the low research output of the country, in the form of patents and publications, that lags both regionally and globally. The availability of quality infrastructure is a requirement for efficient work of researchers and facilitates adaption of new technologies by enterprises. However, these developments must be coupled with good logistical processes to meet the demands of researchers and the industry.


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