PSCF 2021: A Journey into Public Health, Science Communication, and Collective Recovery

By Carlos Manuel Eusoya

PHOTO: Atom Pinoy

It has been almost two years since the first lockdown in the country, but COVID-19 still continues its relentless spread. Doctors, nurses, health professionals, and other frontliners are working tirelessly to administer swab tests and vaccinate individuals. However, all these efforts come to naught if the general public is not well-informed about the medical issues that the country is facing.

Such is the theme of Atom Pinoy’s 2021 Philippine Science Communication Festival (PSCF) held last December 3-12.

PSCF 2021 with the theme, “LUNAS: Yugto sa Pangkalahatang Pagpapayagpag Tungong Makamasang Pampublikong Kalusugan,” is hosted by the youth-led organization Atom Pinoy. Through PSCF, Atom Pinoy continues its mission to extend the public’s knowledge and understanding about public health, as well as to explain timely health issues. Now in its second year, PSCF tackles COVID-19 recovery, citizen science, and effective public communication through its four-part webinar series and the ATOM ini! quiz bee side event.


Shifting States: Stories of Disease Spread and Statistics

The first webinar session explained the importance of statistical data and numerical information in understanding a pandemic’s spread.

Mr. Miko Balisi, a member of the COVID-19 Monitoring Epidemiology Bureau, explained how the health data of individuals are processed and managed. In addition, health economist Dr. Carlo Irwin Panelo showed the trends, graphs, and demographics of disease trends in the country.

Science researcher Dr. John Robert Medina also discussed disease surveillance and his personal journey towards his career and advocacy.


The Citizen's Prerogative: Involvement In Public Health

The second session of PSCF’s webinar series emphasized the power of effective science communication as a means to combat misinformation and raise public awareness.

Mr. Mikael Angelo Francisco, editor-in-chief of FlipScience.ph, encouraged science writers to use their pieces as a way of extending scientific knowledge to the public. Journalist Mark Pere Madrona discussed tips on how to combat fake news and misinformation.

Moreover, Kristine Joy Tomanan, an assistant professor at UP Manila College of Nursing, highlighted the importance of citizen science and public participation in the health sector.


Heartbeat And Hopes: Public Health Innovations

PSCF’s third webinar discussed the state-of-the-art methods and innovations utilized by researchers and public health professionals.

Dr. Cynthia Saloma, a professor at UP Diliman Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, explained how genomic biosurveillance is used to track COVID-19 cases, and identify variants and mutations. Mr. Jomar Rabajante and Dr. Greco Mark Malijan tackled the use of mathematical modeling against COVID, while Mr. Mark Vincent dela Cerna explained the structural biology of COVID-19. Lastly, Dr. Nina Gloriani shared the struggles and challenges faced by public health practitioners.


Of Other Fields: Fortifying Public Health

The final session of PSCF focused on professionals studying outside the realm of medical and health sciences.

Dr. Moises Cansana Torrentira Jr. connected the concepts of environmental health issues (such as climate change) and public health issues (COVID-19 recovery).

Meanwhile, Mr. Justin Richmond Domingo discussed the importance of teaching STEM education to children and youth.

Furthermore, Mr. Kent Jason Cheng linked the social sciences with global pandemics. Mr. Cheng explained the study of social demography — analyzing the health outcomes of individual, family, and community-level factors.

Aside from its webinar series, Atom Pinoy also hosted a side contest. Atom ini!, an interactive quiz bee about public health, COVID-19, and biology, was held last December 12.

“The data-driven orientation of science has pointed a way forward for many in managing this crisis. We see how such an orientation and decision-making has allowed the countries to flatten the curve early and quickly,” says Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, guest speaker for PSCF 2021’s Closing Program.

Indeed, science communication is the key to promoting public health and achieving a collective recovery. PSCF 2021 may have concluded, but its mission to advocate for effective science communication will continue.





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