UPMin’s DiWA leverages campus expertise to address health data gaps

Press Release by UP Mindanao PRO

The University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin) is poised to devise a stronger response to effective management of existing diseases and emerging health threats in Mindanao as a newly-appointed regional hub of the UP Resilience Institute, UP’s center for comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management.

Biomathematics expert Prof. May Anne Mata said establishing a disease watch and analytics unit in UPMin aims to harness this UP constituent university’s expertise in mathematical modeling, data analytics, and genomics to address public health concerns.

UP’s Board of Regents recently approved in its 1378th Meeting the establishment of UPMin’s Center for Disease Watch & Analytics (DiWA) as a regional unit of the UP Resilience Institute.

(The logo of UPMin’s new Center for Disease Watch & Analytics)

In her letter to UP President Danilo Concepcion and UP Resilience Insitute Director Mahar Lagmay, Prof. Mata said, “Mindanao has experienced long-standing neglect, slow economic development, and poverty due to political conflicts. With this context, a resilient public health program is a challenge.

Mindanao needs a hub or satellite for health resiliency, and establishing UP Mindanao’s Center for Disease Watch & Analytics (DiWA Center) is essential to maintaining our active partnership with Local Government Units and local agencies for public health and disease management.

By being a satellite and hub of the UP Resilience Institute, UPMin’s DiWA Center can sustain and expand the scope of its research initiatives and technical services to its stakeholders in public health governance. This is through knowledge generation, sharing, services, and technological innovation. Its ultimate goal is to build health-resilient communities in the entire Mindanao.”

The DiWA Center began as the DOST-NICER Center for Applied Modeling, Data Analytics, and Bioinformatics for Decision Support Systems in Health (AMDABiDSS-Health), which focused on generating solutions to strengthen the local responses to COVID-19.

The center developed the Disease Watch & Analytics (DiWA) app, an online planning tool for pandemic management. The DiWA app featured dashboards for risk management, vulnerability scoring index tools, risk maps, and molecular community trackers. The DiWA app proved its merit by assisting several Mindanao regions in their campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic.

(UPMin researchers and software developers present the Disease Watch & Analytics (DiWA) online app to visitors and prospective users.)

“The Department of Health’s (DOH) regional officers have expressed their desire for UPMin’s continuing technical assistance,” said Prof. Mata.

DOH-XI Regional Director Annabelle Yumang signed an agreement with UP for the use of the DiWA app on November 28, 2022.

(Dept. of Health-XI Regional Director Dr. Annabelle Yumang (front row, second from left) presents the agreement for the use of the Disease Watch & Analytics (DiWA) online application alongside (front row, third from left and onward) UPMin DiWA program leader Prof. May Anne Mata, UP Prof. Cynthia Rose Bautista, UPMin Chancellor Lyre Anni Murao, and UP Prof. Luis Sison.)

DiWA Center’s programs address the sustainable goals of good health and well-being, sanitation, fostering innovation, building sustainable communities, poverty alleviation, and partnerships for the goals.

Meanwhile, UPMin has developed new degree programs related to public health, such as Data Science, Sports, and Human Movement Science. In addition, it has continuing research in health communication and a prospective medical education program.