Uncovering the HIV

The only constant thing in this world is change. Whether one accept it or not, it is difficult to return the changed object back to its original form. Moreover, people are left with no other choice but to deal with it.

Get two glasses of clean water and label it as Glass 1 and Glass 2.  Also prepare paint and a stick for stirring.

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Next is to put aside the Glass 1 and pour paint into Glass 2. For the last step, stir the solution inside Glass 2.

One could say that the water is already contaminated just by merely looking at it. To preserve the clean Glass 1, it has to be kept away from any intervening impurity.

The retrieval of the clean water from Glass 2 is impossible considering its current state. Moreover, the paint has already invaded the system of the water, causing it too hard to separate.

It is a perfect representation of one of the renowned diseases nowadays – HIV.

On HIV

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Human immunodeficiency virus or commonly known as HIV is a disease that can be transmitted sexually. It is a virus that focuses on destroying one’s immune system. As it spreads throughout the body, the person becomes more vulnerable to other infections.

On HIV vs AIDS

People usually confuse themselves with these two terms: HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). However, to explain in simple terms, HIV is a type of virus while the latter is a medical condition.

HIV is the cause of AIDS. On the other hand, AIDS serves as the last stage of HIV. It is the time when the patient already has a severe damaged immune system. Everyone should take note that not all HIV cases lead to AIDS.

On Symptoms

The symptoms that might appear are different from one case to another. There are events wherein a patient is not experiencing any symptoms at all during the early stage. On the other hand, some already experience the initial consequences of having the virus.

Early HIV symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Joint Pain
  • Weight loss
  • White spots on the tongue or mouth

On acquiring the virus

The virus can infect a person through the transmission of body fluids. The possible ways acquiring the disease are as follows:

  • Unprotected Sexual Intercourse – a person could be infected if he is sexually active whether it is vaginal or anal. Moreover, if the patient has a number of sexual partners then the probability is very high.
  • Injections – the virus is also transferrable through used needles.
  • Blood transfusion – there are some cases wherein the patients are victim of HIV infected blood bags.
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding – unfortunately, there are children that suffer the disease because of having HIV positive parents.
  • Occupational exposure – it is case when a victim obtained the virus in his own work place. A good example is that of doctors or nurses that attend to HIV patients.

On detecting the virus

In the Philippines, there are two stages of determining whether a person is positive or not. First is the use of SD BIOLINE HIV 1/2 3.0 Kit then followed by the confirmation done in STD AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL).

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The testing kit is free. It functions like a pregnancy test. Unlike with the pregnancy test, certified HIV testers are the only allowed people to conduct and use the kit. In line with this, the kit is not available in the market unless the patient proceeds to a testing center.

The SACCL is the one responsible in providing the certification for those who wish to have the right in conducting the HIV test.

The following are the testing procedure using the SD BIOLINE HIV 1/2 3.0 Kit:

Remember that certified medical technologists by SACCL are the only people who are allowed to use the kit.

1. Prepare the kit and the assay diluent. Open the kit. There would be rectangle object inside and it is called as the cassette.

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2. Get a 10 µl or microliter of plasma or serum or 20 µl of blood.

  • Blood extraction is the way to get the plasma or serum. The blood must be placed in the violet and red container.

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  • The violet serves as container in order to get the plasma while the red one functions as the vessel for the serum. Then a machine will rotate the containers in order for the plasma or serum to rise in top of the blood. It would be easier to get the plasma or serum.

2. Using the micropipette, get the 10 µl of plasma or serum then place it in the circular apartment on the right side.

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3. Get the assay diluent and add four drops of it into the circular apartment. Always remember to hold the bottle vertically. Failure to do it can lead to inaccurate results.

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4. Then set a 20 minutes timer. Check the result in the first five minutes. After that, check again the results after 20 minutes. The checker must be particular with the 20-minute time span. Do not read the results after the said timeframe or it may result to false information.

The following are the ways to read the results:

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1. The control line on the left side must be visible. If the control line did not appear, then repeat the test. It is because there must be a problem with the test procedure.

Control

2. The color bands would appear on the right section. The color band identifies whether the patient is positive of HIV-1 or HIV-2. There are cases wherein the two color bands are visible. Therefore, the patient is positive of both HIV types.

HIV – 1

HIV 1

HIV – 2

HIV2

3. If the control line is the only line visible in the cassette, then the result is non-reactive. Even though this is the case, the result should not be considered as negative. It does not guarantee that the patient is already free from the virus. There would be three months of grace period before taking the exam again. It is to confirm whether the first result is really a negative one.

Control

If the patient is positive, then the result would not be released immediately. The results would be sent to SACCL for confirmatory. They would verify whether the results are valid or not. Moreover, it is very rare that the kit produced a positive one then the SACCL’s result is a negative.

The patient will already sign up the confirmatory request form. See sample below.

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The results would be released after 10 working days. HIV confirmatory testing is a free of charge. However, the confirmatory testing for other sexually transmitted diseases has a payment. Visit their page for the testing fees.

On testing centers, results

The places that offer HIV testing services are already spread out in the country. There are private and public testing centers. As for the public testing centers, it is free of charge and SACCL is one of those testing centers.

Every person who takes the test should receive a pre and post counseling. It helps the patient to prepare himself on what are the things that would come with having the test. The latter provides efficient aid for the patients on how to deal with their results.

It is advisable to visit a testing center especially if one is sexually active. Knowing that about personal’s status in HIV is very beneficial. If the patient is positive of the said disease, then medications must be issued. Second is the necessary precaution that can be implemented in line of preventing the virus to be obtained.

Majority of the population are scared to take the test because of privacy issues. Always remember that the test results will be kept confidential. The sharing of the result is only possible if the patient has provided a written permission.

Anonymous HIV test is also possible. It means that the name of the patient will not be written in the result form. A number or code is assigned instead of the patient’s real name. Rest assured that none of the records would lead to the patient.

On Misconceptions

There are beliefs about HIV that most people think is true. People should learn to fact check their information to avoid misleading ones. The following are misconceptions about HIV that should be considered at most.

  • Stop using condom when both of you are positive – Remember there different types of HIV and it can be transmitted without the use of condom
  • HIV can be acquired just being around with the positive patients – the virus can only be transmitted through body fluids
  • Straight people are safe from the Virus – Unfortunately, the virus is not exclusive for homosexual.
  • The medications are enough so that one can’t spread the virus – The medicine might help in suppressing the virus but it still hides in some parts of the body
  • One’s partner is negative of HIV. Therefore, it is safe to have unprotected sex – Take note that there are cases wherein the virus cannot be easily detected. It needs grace period in order to be identifiable.
  • Oral sex is an HIV free type of sex – It may be less risky but it is still possible. It is advisable to use latex barrier in having oral sex.
  • HIV infections can be cured by having sex with a virgin – There’s still no cure for the disease
  • HIV can be transmitted through saliva – It is true that HIV can be found in saliva. However, it has a small amount to infect others.

On a Personal View of HIV

According to the Department of Health (DOH), there are 5 965 patients undergoing the anti-retroviral therapy (ARV). It is a combination of drugs that stops the aggressive advancement of HIV. Jay Wheeler is just one of them. It has been a year since he discovered about his condition.

“To be honest I felt depressed, helpless and hopeless. This is normal to people newly diagnosed with HIV, because the stigma in society suggests that HIV infection is no different to a death sentence.” said Wheeler. He discussed the depressing feeling in being caught in the middle of the stigma.

According to Wheeler, he simply just accepted that he is HIV positive instead of dwelling on it so much. He also mentioned that thinking about the negative side of it would do no good to him.

In having the disease, the constant fear of dying early is always there. The struggle in enduring the side effects of the medication is one of the problems faced by Jay Wheeler.

“My ARV was my first line of defense against the virus, though at first the side effects were overwhelming, in time I managed to cope with it to the point that there are virtually no side effects. I was diagnosed with AIDS already at a cd4 count of 182 (normal range is500-1500, clinical AIDS is below 200) after a year of therapy, my cd4 is now 504 and counting.” he added (Kuya Kev, huwag mong pansinin toh, important kasi toh. Haha)

Wheeler wants to remind his colleagues to keep on fighting. It is not yet the end of the world. He reminds them that one day there would be a cure to it.

“HIV is not the problem; AIDS is not the problem either. Ignorance is. The only way to win the fight against HIV/AIDS is to be well informed. Ignorance is poison to the common mind,” said HIV Positive Jay Wheeler.

References:

Sources:

Arnet Magpantay, Licensed Medical Technologist and Certified HIV Tester

http://saccl.doh.gov.ph/

http://www.pnac.org.ph/index.php?page=hiv-aids-101

http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/17131.php

http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/health-article/6260

http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/top-10-myths-misconceptions-about-hiv-aids

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/590915/hiv-cases-rose-43-to-486-in-february-16-aids-deaths-reported-doh

http://www.mddoctorsdirect.com/sites/default/files/HIV1-2.2.pdf

– Christian

 

 

Can It Still be More Fun in the Philippines?

It’s more fun in the Philippines! What most know is that Philippines is one of the happiest countries in the world. It ranks 25th happiest country out of all the countries analyzed. However, contrary to popular knowledge, the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia.

According to the Department of Health, there are 4.5 million cases of depression in the country. In 2004, 3% of all the Filipinos are diagnosed with clinical depression. Yet what are the usual causes of depression among Filipinos.

In the US, depression among 1 out of 10 adults is usually attributed to stroke and obesity. Also, it more common among Americans aged 14-44. The most common causes are stressful events and certain personality types.

Incidence of Clinical Depression in PH

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People who have clinical depression experience sadness, loss of interest in pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self- worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy ,and poor concentration. It becomes clinical depression when the patient starts to have difficulty in coping up with daily life. When this happens, medical help should be sought.

However, in the case of most Filipinos, they have strong social support. That is why most patients are able to cope up despite the decline in their mental well-being. As a result, problems arising in a Filipino’s social circle may cause more stress as compared to patients in the west.

In an interview with the Head of the Psychology Department in Mapúa Institute of Technology, Professor Jasmine Pinugu, a common cause of clinical depression in the Philippines is loss of a loved one. This is more common among parents whose child died. Once a person’s daily is disrupted, professional help like counseling is sought. This is so that the patient may cope up faster.

Treatment in the Philippines and in the West

There are several ways to treat clinical depression. However, out of 90 filipinos diagnosed with clinical depression, only 30 seek professional help. Professor Pinugu mentioned that there is a stigma among Filipinos that when a person goes to a psychologist or psychiatrist, there is something wrong with him. It may pose as a sign of weakness or insanity. Because of this, only a few patients seek for medical help.

Moreover, the strong social support present in the loves of most Filipinos play a major part in the recovery of depression patients. Instead of attending counseling, Filipinos choose to open up to friends and family.

In the cases of patients who seek professional help, they are usually referred by a friend or family member. In other words, patients don’t usually seek help for themselves. It is through in intervention that he undergoes counseling or psychotherapy.

On the other hand, patients in the US are more individualistic. Their mindset is that they are not affected by social influences. Also, they are groomed and raised to be independent. As a result, their social support is not as strong that is why they choose to talk to professionals than to open up to friends or family.

From Professor Pinugu’s experience, in a Westerners perspective, the presence of a professional is better and more reliable than that of the help that friends or relatives can give.

Help in PH

Because of lack of awareness of what depression really is patients usually have a hard time detecting it. It is usually confused with normal sadness. The difference between the two is unlike sadness, depression disrupts everyday life.

As a result, the likes of counseling and psychotherapy are not in demand. This makes seeking professional help a burden especially for those who cannot afford it. To add more, there are a total of 450 psychiatrists in the country. In all the 4.5 million patients of depression in the Philippines, there is 1 psychiatrist to attend 10,000 of them.

Besides the existing stigma in seeking professional help, there are no enough available psychiatrists in the country.

-Jaq

Bibliography:

Clinical Depression: Pinugu, J. (2014, September 18). Personal Interview

PROJECT NOAH

I’m not well informed about this project NOAH which the government is developing so which made me interested in listening to the talk by Mr. Peter Ferrer, a geologist and a research associate in the Department of Science and Technology. Project NOAH is short for Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards. It is additionally called NOAH due to the celebrated Noah’s Ark, about the surge and sparing the creatures. Be that as it may this task will spare loads of individuals’ lives. The Philippines is one of the nations that dependably get hit by any sort of disasters, may it be a storm, a seismic tremor, or even an avalanche.

Approaching a smartphone way project NOAH is a good strategy to inform the public is a good strategy because almost all Filipinos are attached to their phones and to the internet even though our internet connection is crap we are still the 7th fastest growing nation when It comes to smartphones.

Website of project NOAH

My reaction when I visited the site was it is too complex to be understood by a normal person surfing the net. It was not user friendly enough to be used and it’s a little bit laggy also.

Application of project NOAH

The app was nice and it had good design and user interface. When I was using the app it drained my battery a lot which is a bad thing when having typhoon or calamities because there might be a black out and you battery might die instantaneously.

-HUXLEY

Storm Surge: A misconception that can kill a thousand lives

Many typhoons had passed in the Philippines and mostly brought massive destruction. Last year, another destructive typhoon made its title as the “Philippines’ worst natural disaster”. Typhoon Yolanda, with its international name Haiyan, wiped out many areas particularly in Eastern Samar. Among these areas was Tacloban City in Leyte which experienced devastation due to the typhoon and a misconception.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), there were about 6,200 deaths recorded after the casualties brought by typhoon Yolanda. Many of these deaths came from Tacloban City which was hardly hit and damaged by the typhoon. The government did not lack on giving early warnings to the local government. But some information were left misunderstood and even the mayor of Tacloban admitted his confusion.

“There was a difficulty in explaining to the public what a storm surge is. We were aware of the height, but not the strength,” Romualdez said. (Retrived from GMA News – Nation)

This misconception of storm surge, aside from typhoon Yolanda, is one of the factors that brought destruction to Tacloban City. Mayor Romualdez and the other local officials cannot explain what a storm surge is because they were used to tsunami warnings. This simple term, due to unfamiliarity, caused deaths to many Tacloban residents.

What is a storm surge? 

A storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tide. Karen Cardenas, a science writer of K’s weather, even described the storm surge as an abnormal rise of the water along the shore that builds up as a storm moves over water as a result of the high winds of the storm pushing on the ocean surface when the storm is near. It is simply huge massive waves brought about by a storm.

There are many factors that influence a storm surge. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), factors that contribute to the formation of storm surge are the following:

A diagram showing the factors that affect the formation of a storm surge

A diagram showing the factors that affect the formation of a storm surge

  • Central Pressure – A higher surge occurs in a lower pressure.
  • Storm Intensity – A higher surge is produced from strong winds.
  • Size – A higher surge occurs in a larger storm.
  • Storm Forward Speed – A faster storm produces a higher surge on an open coast.
  • Angle of Approach to Coast – A perpendicular direction moving towards the shore produces a higher storm surge.
  • Shape of the Coastline – Storm surge is higher in a concave coastline.
  • Width and Slope of the Ocean Bottom – Higher storm surge occurs with wide, gently sloping continental shelves.
  • Local Features – Storm surge is highly dependent on local features and barriers that will affect the flow of the water.

These factors could have affected the formation of the 5-meter storm surge that washed out the communities in Tacloban. It is not an ordinary wave because it can swallow a community like what happened to the Yolanda victims. Tacloban City Councilor Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez, wife of the city mayor, was one of the victims of typhoon Yolanda and the unfamiliarity she had with the term ‘storm surge’.

“Even in science, we don’t even know that a tsunami can be caused by a storm. Did it ever happen in the past? We were warned about a storm surge but we were not warned about a tsunami,” she said. (Yates, 2013, When Words Save Lives: ‘Storm Tsunami’ vs. ‘Storm Surge’)

Storm Surge vs. Tsunami 

There is a big difference between a storm surge and a tsunami. Cardenas gave a simple but easy description of the two. “A storm surge is caused by a storm. A tsunami is caused by an earthquake.” 

A diagram showing the formation of a tsunami

A diagram showing the formation of a tsunami

She even added the factors which differentiate the two concepts. “The difference lies in the triggers, the frequency of occurrence, the ocean origin, the coastal reach, the hemispheric differences, the direction of energy propagation, advance warning time, travel times, forerunners, the number of waves, duration of waves, the type of waves and the physical processes involved in wave generation.” These ideas are two different phenomena which were interchangeably connected by the victims. They were warned of a storm surge and they thought that it was not destructive at all. And when it came, they perceived it as a tsunami because of the strength it performed. It simply shows that the people lacked knowledge about it and are used of tsunami warnings. Hence, who’s responsible for this?

In this case, the role of science communicators take place. They are the ones who simplify facts about science and technology to ordinary people. They make technical terms into easy ones without distorting the facts. For the Yolanda tragedy, particularly to the storm surge victims, they were informed and warned about the storm surge. But it wasn’t explained clearly what impact it can bring to their communities. Julia Jasmine Sta. Romana, a science journalist in GMA network, even admitted that indeed the media lacked on explaining about the storm surge. But overall, the media and even the government did their best to inform and warn the people regarding this concern.

“Truth is really important to us journalists and during Yolanda, I think we did our jobs the best we could. But again, if you look at human nature, facts alone can’t initiate action. You need an emotional trigger to push people to do something. The scale of destruction that was seen during Yolanda was something you would normally associate with a tsunami, but you couldn’t call it tsunami because that’s not it. And that’s the challenge for us journalists, we need to find ways to illustrate these concepts in a way that people can relate to without distorting facts.” – Julia Jasmine Sta. Romana

In conclusion, Typhoon Yolanda didn’t only bring destruction but even confusion to the minds of the people. And with a simple misunderstanding, a term has killed a thousand lives.

References links:

NOAA, 2008, Introduction to Storm Surge (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hurricane/resources/surge_intro.pdf )

NDRRMC, 2014, NDRRMC Update: Effects of Typhoon “Yolanda: (Haiyan) (http://www.ndrrmc.gov.ph/attachments/article/1125/Update%20Sitrep%20No.%20104%20Effects%20of%20TY%20YOLANDA.pdf )

Cardenas, K., 2014, Personal Communication

Sta.Romana, J., 2014, Personal Communication

– Shek

Advancement Technology to Ensure Food Freshness Preservation

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A technology enhanced by a Filipino inventor, Hernando B. Decena, an ordinary man but made a big change on food advancement technology. Engr. Decena graduated from National University with the degree of Mechanical Engineering. He is a very hardworking man because he is the breadwinner of his family and the BIF is the fruit of his hardwork.  His innovation could preserve meat, poultry and non-leafy vegetables and aquatic products. The revolutionary technology called BIF or Brine Immersion Freezer.

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What is BIF?

BIF or Brine Immersion Freezing is a quick freezing method which uses a super conductive (the ability materials to conduct electric current with exactly zero resistance) liquid which freezes meat, poultry, non-leafy vegetable and aquatic products for a few minutes.

How does BIF work?

Inside the BIF freezer you can find the liquid solution, liquid that instantly freezes the products with minimal cell wall rupture during the ice crystal formation stage. Consequently, the substances in the cell are almost unchanged, preserving the flavor and texture as fresh as before freezing. Dip the products for a certain amount of time. After dropping the product inside the freezer it will come out rock hard after a particular amount of time, For example place big fishes in the freezer then after 3o minutes or less it will come out rock hard and can be stored in Styrofoam container without ice for about 2 to 3 days max other products can be freezed inside the freezer like beer place beer in the brine immersion freezer for 10 minutes or less and it can be drinked sub-zero. Knowing that when a certain food is placed in the BIF it will be frozen or most likely be hard as a rock, you have to defrost it or leave it still on a half-full of water and wait for it to be dissolved for a little amount of time and still its original freshness is instilled. The use of salt water solution is a way of preserving living animals but it doesn’t mix up to the original savor of the fish and such.

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Advantages of BIF compared to other products

BIF can eliminate the use of ice containers when shipping goods thus lessening the overhead cost. Vacuum pack likewise obliges extra cost because of the plastic to be utilized and is great just for specific items and pulverizes the surface nature of fish items because of quick change in temperature bringing about high thickness of ice crystal formation. Blast freezing likewise is great just for certain seafood products and lowers the quality of seafood products because of quick change in temperature bringing about high thickness of ice crystal formation. BIF is energy efficient which only consumes 120 kilowatts per ton of electricity and guaranteed result in freezing as compared to other products which consume a lot of electricity and not result to better quality of products. In summary, this technology could preserve freshness of a living thing from small ocean creatures to the big ones unlike the old school freezer that could take out all the taste as well as the freshness that Filipinos are looking for.

Target Market of BIF

The target community of Engr. Decena are the farmer cooperatives in provinces but one problem that he discovered is Filipino farmers tend to shy away from new technology however he said that after the farmers discover the benefits of the BIF they would want one in their cooperatives and people whose business are importing and exporting seafoods and other leafy vegetables as well as other goods that needs preservation for its freshness, taste and all that alike to other countries. His vision is to eliminate post-harvest loss. BIF also eliminates food shortage because in can freeze food for storage in times of calamity which is frequent in the Philippines. Fishermen and farmers don’t need to worry about selling their product pronto they can increase products shelf life with the use of BIF.

Breastfeeding: Ensuring Early Nourishment

The moment a woman decides to be a mother, a lot of other matters are taken into consideration. There is the cost of pregnancy, or the cost of raising a child, which happens to be at the top of expectant parents’ list of concerns. While there are other apprehensions to go through, the mother makes a pivotal choice of opting to breastfeed or not.

Ob-Gyne specialists and pediatricians cannot stress enough the benefits of breastfeeding, but the decision is still up to the mother. Once decided upon, one must fully commit to the decision and here, starts a journey of learning the ABC’s of breastfeeding.

Just like the process of breastfeeding orientation, one must first know what breastfeeding is and how it works.

What is breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is the natural process of feeding an infant directly from the breasts of a female. It is also known as lactation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) are just a few of the recognized, international, organizations which promote breastfeeding as the best way of feeding babies.

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Understanding Generic Drugs in the Philippine Context

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Intramuros, Manila—Does the quality of generic drugs inferior to their branded counterparts? Or are generic drugs just as good as their brand named duplicates?

The assumption that branded drugs are superior when compared to generic medicines has been the subject of debate since the early 1990’s. A common misconception in the Philippines is that generic medicine fare poorer in performance and efficacy compared to branded medicine. Thus, leading to a stale growth of sales and reputation.

What reasons led to this misinterpretation? Before answering this question, what first are generic drugs exactly?

WHAT ARE GENERIC DRUGS?

The World Health Organization (n.d.) defines generic drugs as pharmaceutical products meant to be identical to an innovator’s product, that is developed outside of the innovator’s license and sold after the patent’s expiry date and other restricted rights.

Medicine student Ruth Misa (personal communication, 2014) adds that, “generics and branded drugs are exactly the same when it comes to effects, longevity, side effects and use.”

In other words, generic medicines are the exactly the same as branded drugs. Both of these drugs offer the same safety, quality, and effectiveness.

HOW ARE GENERIC AND BRANDED DRUGS MANUFACTURED?

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Both generic and branded drugs are manufactured the same way, due to both having the same active ingredients. Doctor Lyria Reina states that, “the mode of action and the indication (of both drugs in factories) are all the same,” referring to the manufacturing of generic and branded medicines.

Contrary to popular belief, generic and branded medicines are not made in different factories, the quality of the latter better than the former. As a requirement, all medicines are to be manufactured in factories must reach specific quality standards.

The Bureau of Food and Drug administration (BFAD) of the Philippines will not allow these factories to manufacture drugs if they do not meet these standards (Ocampo, n.d.).

THE DIFFERENCE OF BRANDED AND GENERIC DRUGS

IN PRICE:

The price of branded medicines are higher than that of generic ones because more money is allotted for advertising and marketing even though the manufacturing processes are the same (Gonzales, 2014).

On the other hand, the prices of generic drugs, as Student Ruth Misa of the Far Eastern University (personal communication, 2014) says, “Are much cheaper than branded drugs because, as the patency expires in a branded product, commercial expenditure also lessens.”

IN APPEARANCE:

As previously mentioned, both generic and branded medicine have the same active ingredients. These active ingredients allow both medicines to have the same safety, quality, and effectiveness. However, both medicines do not have the same inactive ingredients.

Since trademark laws do not permit generic medicines to have the same appearance as its branded counterparts, the former does not have the right to duplicate the look of the latter. This is where inactive ingredients in medicines come in.

These inactive ingredients generate the generic drug’s appearance in order to differ with its branded counterpart (Misa, personal communication 2014). Despite being inactive, the improper application of these said ingredients may result into it being active and harmfully alter the medicine’s effect (Misa, personal communication 2014).

GENERIC DRUGS ACT OF 1988 (REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6675)

Generic medicines have been made to be affordable and efficient since the implementation of the Generic Drugs Act of 1988—a law that ensures generic medicine to be sold at the cheapest available cost and be free of charge to poverty-stricken patients.

The violation of the said law might result into,  “an administrative case on the Professional Regulatory Commission, that might cause suspension or revocation of our license and pay some amount of money,” says doctor of medicine student Crispin Bautista of Our Lady of Fatima University.

GENERIC DRUG’S PERCEPTION IN PH

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Despite the law’s attempt to boost generic medicine, approval of generic drug prescription and sales has been slow (Bennett et al., 1997).

The sales by value of it are only about 5% mostly due to the low public perception of buyers and sellers to generic medicine (Batangan, n.d.). Additionally, a 1999 survey revealed that only 34% contained generic drugs in the 91% of sick respondents that were given prescriptions by physicians (Wong et al., 2014).

According to Wong (2014), this presented a trend that more physicians prefer to write the brand name of medicines only and a lessened practice of generic prescription.

When asked why this is the case, Doctor Reina elaborates that, “Generic drugs undergo lesser researches and tests. We cannot say that is has poor quality because the mode of action and the indication were all the same, however, its component (of inactive ingredients) may be of lower quality…”

She also adds, “Physicians want to give the best cure for their patient, which is maybe why they prescribe (further) proven drugs so as not to delay the course of treatment” (personal, communication, 2014).

The case of inactive ingredients and lesser research and tests of generic drugs may be the possible cause as to why it is harshly perceived in the Philippines.

Doctor Reina (personal communication, 2014) says, “Branded medicines undergo intensive researches and tests and, because of that, its effectiveness are (are seen as) well defined and proven,” as opposed to generic drugs.

A survey conducted by (RB, 1991) showed that 70% of the physicians, the respondents, are opposed to the Generics Drug Act of 1988. A greater number of physicians believe that the BFAD is incapable of assuring the quality of the medicine.

FDA

Doctor Reina (personal communication, 2014) states that the Philippine economy may to be to blame. She says:

“There are a lot of steps to prove the quality of a certain drug and it needs a lot of resources. Our economy’s budget for this cannot accommodate all the tests needed for all the drug. Though all drugs were certainly tested and proven to be safe, not all of them had undergone further intensive tests that can improve its effectiveness.”

Another reason might be rooted in the law’s implementation of BFAD. Crispin Bautista (personal communication, 2014) explains that:

“(the BFAD) doesn’t have the power to manipulate the manufacturers to have a standard formulation of chemicals for the generic ones and assure us that a pill is of the same potency as the branded medication.”

To improve general perception and dispensing of generic drugs, a long-term approach would be necessary in its promotion in the Philippines (Bennett et al., 1997).

Bibliography

al., J. Q. (2014). The Prevalence of Philippine Prescribing, Dispensing, and Use Behavior in Relation, to Generic Drugs and their Risk Factors. Makati City : Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

Batangan, D. B. (n.d.). Medicine prices, availability, affordability and price components. Quezon City : Institute of of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manial University.

Gonzales, E. (2014, July 29). Generic drugs vs branded drugs. Retrieved from http://www.mb.com.ph: http://www.mb.com.ph/generic-drugs-vs-branded-drugs/

Ocampo, R. D. (n.d.). Generic vs Branded: What Are Generic Medicines? Retrieved from http://www.raindeocampo.com: http://www.raindeocampo.com/2014/06/15/generic-vs-branded-what-are-generic-medicines/

Organization, W. H. (n.d.). Generic Drugs. Retrieved from http://www.who.int: http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story034/en/

RB, D. (1991). The new Philippine Generic Drugs Act: a physician’s viewpoint. Manila: Clinical Epidemiology Unit, University of the Philippines.

Sara Bennett, J. D. (1997). PUBLIC-PRIVATE ROLES IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL SECTOR: Implications for equitable access and rational drug use. World Health Organization.

-Jireh

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Traffic: Can technology make a city traffic free?

Traffic Along Katipunan

Traffic Along Katipunan

No one loves sitting in a heavy traffic jam especially when there is no valid reason for it to occur, no car accidents, no road construction and no parade of movies for christmas, just a sudden and irritating slowdown of the cars, trucks and busses ahead, causing you to hit on your brakes with rage specially when you’re already late for something important.

We all have experienced nightmares of how Metro Manila’s huge traffic jams ruined our wonderful day even before they had even a chance to begin. A lot of appointments, meetings and dates have been canceled due to the outrageous traffic in the Philippines’ capital region — Metro Manila.

Welcome to the world of traffic waves, a phenomenon that made drivers to rage since the first cars started to roll out in the road, thanks to the creative mind of Henry Ford.

Many of us would notice that most of filipino drivers considered traffic laws as optional or most of them don’t take the law seriously loading and unloading in improper areas, clogging the areas were pedestrians supposed to walk in, making i-legal terminals that would cause clogging of roads that leads to heavy traffic.

According to CNNGo.com way back in 2012, The City of Manila was considered or named as the world’s third worst city when it comes to driving, imagine that Metro Manila is rank 3rd.

Why does traffic occur?

The simplest explanation for why traffic waves/jams happen is that drivers have relatively slow in reaction times: if the car in front of you suddenly slows down, it’ll likely take you a second or so to hit the brakes. The slower your reaction time, the harder you have to brake to compensate and keep a safe distance. The same goes for the car behind you, which has to brake even harder than you did in order to slow down faster. And so on down the road, in a domino-like effect.” (Lewis Lehe and Matthew Green 2013)

As we all know, the technology of our grandfather during their time is far different as we have now, beepers or pagers are the ones that dominates in technology in terms of communication that small piece of devise make their time powerful, what more now in this generation everything from gadgets to appliances and even cars are now considered as “Smart”.

Traffic in the roads of Metro Manila is one of the biggest problems that has not yet solved, but traffic-regulating sectors in the country are currently working out some new regulations and solutions for both public and private vehicles to lessen the traffic on major roads.

One thing that this traffic-regulating bodies sees as a first aid kit to the problem is with the use of technology preferably smart-phones and tablets by installing applications such as MMDA Traffic App and Go Manila.

Can this emerging power of technology would made Manila a Star wars or Valerian Fifth Element inspired with flying cars?

Photo from Valerian fifth Element movie

Photo from Valerian fifth Element movie

Technology might be a promising solution, with the use of your Smart-phones you can access traffic apps that can help you or anyone who drives to escape the traffic ahead” said Engr. Federico E Castillo of Plans Design & Traffic  Signal Operations Div. MMDA.

Napaka laking tulong ng mga gadgets ngayon di man ma solve yung problema agad but padahan dahan step by step maayos ng gobyerno naten yan. Halimbawa, mga application tulad ng MMDA traffic app,  Go! Manila  at iba pa na app meron sa mga cellphone naten magagamit yun ng mga tao to check if my updates about traffic ano ung mga dapat nilang iwasan na daanan or what alternate route that drivers could take.” added by Engr. Castillo.

Go! Manila

Go! Manila

Engr. Castillo said that traffic really is a major problem specially in busy city like the Metro, plus driver’s discipline towards driving is notorious but fortunately there are changes and improvements when it comes to Metro Manila traffic although it is not seen or felt by many for them it is an achievement, like quick response to accidents that could be one factor to flare up a traffic jam.

The Local government unit of the City of Manila has recently launched a mobile Application called Go! Manila. Continue reading

The Boat is Sinking: All about Project NOAH

NOAH Logo

19 tropical cyclones or storms enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility in a typical year among these storms, usually 6 to 9 make a landfall. With that number, it is clear that the Philippines is really prone to typhoons. Well not just typhoons, but to any kinds of calamities. It is because the Philippines is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, or the Typhoon Belt where most calamities start.

The typhoons entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility are given a local name by the PAG-ASA, which also raises the public storm signal warnings as a necessity. Most of us know that is it not new to us if there will be a typhoon that will hit us. There are a lot of strong typhoons that hit our country and took many lives of our citizens.

With this problem, we need a system or a program to inform us about these kind of calamities and accurately tell us when it will hit the country and if we need to prepare immediately for evacuation. This is where the Project NOAH comes in.

What is Project NOAH?

Project NOAH stands for Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards. It is also called NOAH because of the famous Noah’s Ark, about the flood and saving the animals. But this project will save lots of people’s lives. The Philippines is one of the countries that always get hit by any kind of calamities, may it be a typhoon, an earthquake, or even a landslide.

This is an early warning tool for typhoon preparedness and because the Philippines is prone to all types of calamities, this project can help everyone especially warning agencies, LGUs and other sub-government units to provide information to everyone in their administration. It also has different projects that can help in alerting and informing everyone about certain calamities.

This project is a response to President Noy’s instructions to put into action a responsive program or system for disaster prevention and mitigation, especially for the Philippines’ warning agencies to be able to provide a warning to liable communities against floods and heavy rainfall. Also, to use the advanced technology to enhance current geo-hazard vulnerability maps. By having this program, a lot can be saved during calamities.

Project NOAH can be accessed through their website and their official mobile application which can be downloaded via App Store for Apple users and Google Play for Android users.

What are the component projects of the NOAH program?

There are a total of 9 component projects under the Project NOAH. These are the following:

  • Hydromet Sensors Development (HSD)
  • DREAM-LIDAR 3D Mapping Project
  • Flood NET – Flood Modeling Project
  • Hazards Information Media (HIM)
  • Enhancing Geo-hazards Mapping through LIDAR
  • Doppler System Development (DSD)
  • Landslides Sensor Development Program (LDSP)
  • Storm Surge Inundation Mapping Project (SSIMP)
  • Weather Information – Integration for System Enhancement (WISE)

All these 9 component projects may be different from each other, but they have one main purpose as to why it is created, and that is to give information about the current state of a typhoon and warning us if we should evacuate or not.

These projects uses the latest technology we have to identify how much rain will pour in an hour or in a day by using rain gauges, how strong is the wind and predicting the weather by using the Doppler radar, where are landslides most commonly seen and happen by using high-quality satellite photos, where a starting storm surge will head and how strong it is and so much more.

Project NOAH was not built alone. It had to team up with the Philippines’ top warning agencies: Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) to give us the latest and accurate results for all calamities that will hit our country.

What is in the website of Project NOAH?

P. Noah

        When you go to their website, you will definitely see a combination of both science and technology. The main page of the website will give you the map of the Philippines, labelling some provinces and cities. There are also a lot of features in this website. You can see there a flood map, weather stations, rain gauges, a Doppler, and many more. This website will give you all the information you need about how much rain pours in an hour or in a day, measuring the wind, predicting the weather, and so much more.

According to Mr. Peter Ferrer, a geologist and a research associate in the Department of Science and Technology, the website can be a big help if you want to know about what’s happening if there’s a typhoon that is currently in our country and what is its current state, if it is a strong typhoon or just a rainfall. Although that this website can be accessed by anyone, I do not think that everyone can understand what some terms mean because those terms are scientific and some of our citizens are not used with scientific terms, If I may say so myself.

NOAH

The website can show you how flooded your own neighborhood will be in the event of a very strong typhoon. It is also a website that allows you to see storm tracks, the amount of rainfall in a particular area, the water level in your nearest river, as well as how high the flood will be in your very own home. All you have to do is type the name of your street, village, or city and watch the flood maps reveal which parts of your community will be submerged in floods. All the information comes from over 100 new weather gauges and 4 new Doppler radars bought and installed by the government. Project NOAH also developed storm surge hazard maps that will predict the date and time of surge impacts, as well as the water level rise in coastlines.

“Noah” is still in its early stages and the government wants to integrate its use in local governments to make disaster preparedness all over the country faster and more efficient. The other goals of Project NOAH may seem ambitious, such as a nationwide 3D hazard map, use of satellite information for broadcast in both TV and web, among others, which are all expected to be deployed by 2016.

For an overview look on how to use the Project NOAH website, watch this video via YouTube.

– Nathan

What you need to know about Pre-cum

Sperm-swimming

Sex in the Philippines

Sex is a very sensitive topic that most Filipinos choose not to discuss. Sex education isn’t even a mandatory thing here in the Philippines. That is why most of the Filipino youth’s knowledge is only limited to what they hear from their peers, what they see in the media, what they can gather from internet and to what is passed onto them by those who are older than them. Even though the youth is sex-driven, we are not properly prepped in terms of sexual intercourse that is why many young adults easily engage in sex without even knowing what they are doing and what the consequences might be.

According to Interaksyon.com, 1 out of 3 Filipino youth aged from 15-22 have already engaged in premarital sex and 30% of Filipinas have already given birth before they have reached the age of 21. This is pretty alarming for Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, executive director of advocacy group EnGenderRights. Padilla says there is definitely a need to educate adolescents about the possible consequences of unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies. She also adds “Teens these days have adopted a liberal mindset towards intimate acts, which can inevitably lead to sex. This has got to stop.”

Due to the lack of sex education in the Philippines, there are multiple sex myths that the youth cannot settle whether it is true or false. One of them is getting pregnant from pre-cum. Before I never quite understood what big deal is since most people engage in sex with condoms and contraceptives but now It all made sense; pre-cum is such a hot topic because young adults want to know if you could avoid pregnancies by simply pulling out before ejaculating even without condoms and contraceptives.

Pre-cum and the chances of getting pregnant

MedGuidance.com explains Pre-cum or pre-seminal fluid as a liquid produced by the male’s Cowper’s or bulbourethral gland during sexual activity or when aroused. This fluid is secreted by the male to clear a path for the sperm to travel through during ejaculation. Pre-cum is alkaline in composition, which neutralizes any acidic remnants of urine present in the urethra. Therefore, pre-cum is vital in making a safe and non-hostile path for the sperm to travel. So what are the odds that a woman will get pregnant from a man’s pre-cum?

Dr. Roland Ragasa, a local general practitioner, says that the chance of getting pregnant from pre-cum is low but it is definitely possible. Studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) determined that the reason why there is a low chance of getting pregnant from pre-cum is due to its low sperm count.

According to MedGuidance.com, in a normal ejaculation there are about 100 million sperm per milliliter of fluid. Out of that 100 million sperm, only 10 million will make it past a woman’s outer vagina and cervical mucus, then only 1 million reach the uterine tract, and finally only a slim 100, 000 will actually make it to the fallopian tubes. In pre-cum there is actually no sperm present originally but since pre-cum is like an alkaline it manages to sweep up about 3 million per milliliter of sperm from a previous ejaculation; therefore it is highly unlikely that a woman will get pregnant from pre-cum alone.

However, Dr. Ragasa says with any sexual interaction there is still a slim chance of fertilization occurring even if it is only from pre-cum. This fertilization occurs from the sperm from the previous ejaculation that gets swept up by the pre-cum as it enters the woman’s vagina.

Chances of Getting Pregnant From Pre-cum with Withdrawal

Many couples resort to the withdrawal method during sex as a viable contraceptive tool, instead of using birth control pills or condoms. During this method, the man withdraws his penis from the woman before ejaculating.

A pregnancy can occur when sperm enters the vagina or even just on the vaginal opening. In the event that the male successfully withdraws his penis, though the actual ejaculation containing the sperm does not enter the woman’s vagina, the pre-cum may still have entered it. It still might be there and this means that there is a chance of pregnancy.

While the withdrawal method may sound as if it lowers the risk of pregnancy, there is still a chance of getting pregnant from the pre-cum. He may not even realize that pre-cum is already entering the woman’s vagina since there absolutely no way of knowing if pre-cum is being released. Moreover, the man may not withdraw in time to prevent the actual ejaculate from entering the woman, making this method extremely risky.

Also know that pre-cum, whether it contains sperm or not, absolutely can transmit sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), so pulling out provides no protection against STDs.

Ways to avoid unwanted pre-cum pregnancy

Since withdrawal is not a reliable method for birth control or to avoid pregnancy, Dr. Ragasa provides ways on how to avoid the possibility of pre-cum pregnancy.

  • Never engage in a sexual act if you are not ready for the consequences, especially the teenagers and young adults.
  • Although it is risky and it may have several side effects, women who want to avoid pregnancy should regularly intake contraceptives
  • The safest thing is to assume that an erect penis is always capable of causing a pregnancy even before an ejaculation so cover it with a condom before it comes in contact with the vagina.
  • Always use condoms when engaging in sex, it not only helps to avoid pregnancy but it also lessens the chance of spreading STDs.
  • Only use a condom once then throw it away. As the condom is stretched, it becomes weaker and more likely to break if used more than once. It is also very likely that sperm may be on the outside of a used condom resulting in a higher risk of pregnancy.
  • Urinating between sexual activities will clear the area of sperm, decreasing this possibility. If the man has urinated since his last ejaculation the urine would have flushed out and killed any leftover sperm in the penis which means in this case a pregnancy wouldn’t happen since the pre-cum will no longer gather leftover sperm.

 

– Solenn

References:

http://www.sexetc.org/info-center/post/sperm-and-pre-cum-what-you-need-to-know/

http://www.newhealthguide.org/Can-You-Get-Pregnant-From-Precum.html

http://www.medguidance.com/thread/Chances-of-Getting-Pregnant-From-Precum.html

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/80226/1-in-3-filipino-youth-aged-15-24-has-engaged-in-premarital-sex—survey

Padilla, C. R. (2014, September 18). Personal communication.

Roland, R. (2014, September 18). Personal communication.