Meet Manuel Dayrit MD, MSc, Newton Fund Institutional Links Grant awardee.

Research topic: Transforming Primary Healthcare in the Philippines: An Innovative Pilot Postgraduate Professional Development Program for Primary Physicians in the Province of Northern Samar

Host institution / UK university: Keele University

Home institution: Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health

Describe your research collaboration in simple terms.

Primary physicians or General Practitioners working in the rural health units of the poor province of Northern Samar are faced with huge challenges to be effective providers of health care to their patients and communities. The joint research seeks to find ways of preparing them better and making them more effective and efficient in the multiple tasks that they carry out daily (eg. treat patients, do public health).

What activities have you undertaken that target the economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines?

By improving how primary care is provided in the rural health centres in Northern Samar, the project contributes to the alleviation of poverty. It is so important that health concerns of poor people are addressed effectively to avoid serious illness, complications, and hospitalization which aggravate their already impoverished state. Prevention is better than cure. Early treatment is better than late treatment.


This research project has provided UK and Philippine researchers the opportunity to develop a cross-cultural understanding of the way primary care is practiced in their respective countries. While the contexts are different, there are common lessons. For example, it is important for health personnel to work effectively in teams so that burdens and tasks are shared towards addressing the concerns of patients as well as those of their families and communities. 

How did your collaboration with the UK contribute to your institution in general or your career as a researcher?

This joint collaboration is one part of the big picture of improving the provision of health care in the Philippines. Promoting the health and well-being of all Filipinos, particularly the poor, is the overarching mission. This research project has strengthened the research capability of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health towards finding solutions to health problems in our rural areas. It has also provided the opportunity for Ateneo graduates to be involved so that they can experience working in a poor province. 

The joint project has resulted in closer bonds with the Provincial Government of Northern Samar which has hired Ateneo graduates to work in its health facilities.

What about the UK influenced your decision to collaborate with your partner institution?

Keele University is known for its expertise in the formation of General Practitioners who are the first-line care givers in the UK health system. ASMPH sought to partner with Keele in order to learn lessons for strengthening GP practice particularly in the rural health units in Northern Samar.

During our visit to Keele, we were able to observe GPs doing patient consultations in the clinic. We saw how the GP would relate to patients and how technological support for the GP made him/her work very efficiently. On the other hand, in their visit to Northern Samar, the UK team saw that our rural health physicians not only had to see patients but also had to supervise health center personnel and manage public health programs. Our lesson: formation and training needs to be designed to be responsive to the particular context the physician will be working in.

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