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The small news item about a new respiratory-related epidemic in December 2019 became a major pandemic that adversely hit the whole world, challenge government capability, overwhelm health systems, disrupt economies and completely affected our social life.

Governments became busy especially the health and medical sectors to respond quickly to the crisis. All else followed – the food, transportation, labor, tourism, education, religious sectors had to be subjected to quarantine in order to flatten the COVID-19 escalating curve. We triumphed with our first local testing kit, and the DOST came up with a list of technologies and services to fight the pandemic.

With the effects of the pandemic, ECQ or lockdown is the other side of the situation.

Can we now adjust to the new normal? Can we even go back to our day-to-day lives after the pandemic? Are the information we get accurate? Do we have the finances and sociological support to hold us up until the crisis is over?

These are just a few questions that have led to anxiety and distress amidst the COVID-19 crisis. There are different questions for every sector, every economic status and every Filipino.

The COVID-19 pandemic is to some extent a reality check and is testing everyone, especially government, in dealing with it. But more than this are everyone’s emotions, feelings, and behavior towards other people, and the government in the present situation. Further, issues on how well are the effectivity and public acceptance of government-issued policies and pronouncements are, including how gender-sensitive the Philippines is when it comes to pandemic.

The Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) is conducting three (3) studies that look into these issues or the social dimensions of COVID-19. Intended to be completed in June 2020, the outputs of the projects are directed to the government, particularly the policymakers and agencies that are in the forefront of the COVID crisis, that will serve as research-based guidance in future policies and pronouncements.

1. EMOTIONS, FEELINGS, AND BEHAVIORS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

This project is investigating people's feelings and response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the timeline of the pandemic and through the various government actions including how they get their information (i.e., sources), how they feel, respond, process and react to these various information and their sources.

The team from University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman led by Director Maria Cecilia Gastardo-Conaco, DOST-NRCP member of Division VIII – Social Sciences, see the experience of Filipinos in this period of uncertainty and disruption.

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Director Maria Cecilia G. Conaco

NRCP Member, Social Sciences (Division VIII)

Aside from the description of how people feel and respond to the pandemic, the UP team is expected to come up with policy recommendations on how government and media could possibly communicate information and directives in order that more productive outcomes (i.e. more toned down negative affect and a greater willingness to engage productive action). The study will also identify the implications for health promotion.

2. CONTENT ANALYSIS OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND ISSUANCES REGARDING THE 2020 PANDEMIC

This project intends to assess the level of implementation, monitoring, evaluation and impact of political instrumentalities cascading from national down to local governmental entities including the subsequent roles of other stakeholders of COVID-19 such as the private, philanthropic and nongovernmental organizations.

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Mr. Laufred I. Hernandez

NRCP Member, Social Sciences (Division VIII)

Project Leader Laufred I. Hernandez, also a DOST-NRCP member of Division VIII – Social Sciences and from UP Manila, will lead the identification and establishment of the gaps in policy directions and implementations such as security, resources vis-à-vis preparedness, community awareness, strategies for prevention and control and social containment.

With the results of the project, DOST-NRCP will recommend strategies to strengthen the policy issuances in COVID19. More comprehensive and detailed issuances will create unity and obedience from the people that will include new strategies and best practices done by the government on public health and pandemic.

3. GENDER-SPECIFIC INSIGHTS BASED ON COVID-19 EPIDEMIOLOGICAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA

Gender is one of the neglected social dimensions of COVID-19.

The health, social and economic risks brought about by the disease have associated gender-specific aspects, such as role of gender in the healthcare system, sex-dependent health vulnerabilities of individuals, and gender-related occupational hazards.

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Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante

NRCP Member, Mathematical Sciences (Division II)

With this, Dr. Jomar F. Rabajante, DOST-NRCP member of Division II - Mathematical Sciences and Project Leader from UP Los Banos, will provide gender-specific insights.

Dr. Rabajante and his team will use the available epidemiological and socio-economic data to produce an interactive dashboard showing gender-specific insights related to CoVID-19 that can be used for academic or policy-making. An online interactive dashboard showing gender-specific insights related to COVID-19 that can be used for academic or policy-making purposes will be developed in the project.

What’s NEXT?

 Upon completion of the projects in June, the DOST-NRCP, as a government agency and a policy advisory body, will push the use of the outputs of these researches by different government instrumentalities through policy recommendations.

DOST is at the forefront in helping the government for a better, wise and sound decision-making based on research.

Research and development make change happen, in all areas including governance, society, and the people as a whole.

Photo credits:

NRCP-TCDS and ResearchGate