Week 5

EL NIDO 7.7-7.10

We spent three days and three nights in El Nido, Palawan. This was a mini vacation and all of the IWU interns in the Philippines were able to meet up for the weekend. Lukas, Kennady, and I arrived in El Nido very early on Friday morning. We spent the morning in the hostel waiting for our room to become available. The view from the hostel was phenomenal and I met some very cool people from all over the world. On Saturday we got up early for an island hopping tour; this consisted of stopping at different beaches, snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming. While snorkeling I got stung by a jelly fish and while kayaking my legs got super sunburnt, but I had such a fun day it was all worth it. Hunter and I kayaked together through Big Lagoon, we had such an amazing and peaceful time, although I did make Hunter paddle us almost the entire time. Overall I had a great weekend and it was great to see the other IWU interns. We headed back to Manila at around 3 am Monday morning and went in for a half day in the office after we got back.

Office work 7.10-7.12

7.10 We traveled back to Manila very early today. The airport was extremely small, only catering one flight at a time. Our flight was delayed by about an hour so the airline bought everyone breakfast and we spent the time taking a nap. When we got back to our apartment in Manila, we took a quick nap, unpacked our things, and got ready for a half day in the office. We decided to take a grab to the office because it is very affordable and the walk at noon would have been brutally hot and sweaty. My back and legs were still very burnt so the last thing I wanted to do was be in the sun for too long. When we got to the office, everyone seemed surprised to see us again because we hadn’t been there for work since before our first deployment in mid June. We were paired up with the dietary editing team for the day. We visited their office and tried data editing which was very confusing at first because there were so many codes and additional research that needed to be done. The dietary editing team is in charge of editing the dietary component of the NNS (national nutrition survey) data submitted from the field researchers. This data includes the 24 hour food recall and food weighing. The data from each household is put into a separate spread sheet and printed out. In order to edit the data one must reference several documents that provide codes for different food, food preparation, and source. After we tried to edit one households dietary data, we observed how to properly weigh food condiments used, this is done in the field in the morning and at night to see total use throughout the day. We were given a snack of turon, deep-fried banana rolls which were very delicious before heading home for the day.

7.11 Today in the office, we were given breakfast of arroz caldo which is rice porridge, I really enjoyed it. After breakfast we spent the morning with the food matching division. They explained that the The Philippine Food Composition Table (PhilFCT) database is used to provide information on the chemical/nutritional composition of foods. The database “It contains subsets of nutrient data, descriptors and photos of foods that were generated and compiled at the FNRI’s Food Composition Laboratory.” If a respondent has consumed an uncommon food or a food that is not within this database there are several things that can be done to determine the foods nutritional composition. First the field researcher must identify that it is an uncommon food and take a picture of it and provide a description, it is then the team leaders job to upload this into a spread sheet that is shared with the food matching team in the office. In the office, research is done on this food to find its nutritional-makeup by using foreign databases. We were shown all of the databases that every country has, I didn’t know that so many countries had such databases. A great example is the USDA’s (US Department of Agriculture) FoodData Central. Researchers may use this database to gather the data and determine its nutritional value to the consumer. The researcher have to also research the food to make sure it is the same as the one the respondent had consumed and input it into the same spreadsheet as before. The researcher must then use two other databases to ensure accuracy before it is submitted to the director of NAMD for approval. We spent the afternoon in the lab observing how the biomedical samples are tested. Iron, Vitamin A, and Iodine are the most common micronutrient deficiencies in the Philippines. We observed in two different labs; the first was for serum/plasma samples to measure vitamin A content, the second was for urine samples to measure for iodine excretion. We observed chemists separating the retinol from serum blood in the vitamin A lab and in the urine lab (which did smell strongly of urine) were more hands on and got to use pipettes to take samples of the urine and transfer into test tubes. The Plasma/Serum Vitamin A samples are tested with Spectrophotometric using HPLC. To test for Urinary Iodine Excretion (UIE), the Sandell-Kolthoff Method is used. I am not very familiar with either of the methods during my observations, so I cannot explain in detail what happens, but we got to see how the samples from the field are actually sent to the FNRI labs and tested in a timely manner. FNRI also has other labs to test Hemoglobin, Serum/Plasma Ferritin, Serum/RBC Folate, and Serum Zinc. After work, later at night Lukas and I tried to do laundry. We walked all the way to the usual laundry spot, but the owner told us it was too late to start doing laundry- so we got a trike back and went for a late night swim with Hunter and Kennady.

7.12 We woke up a little earlier than usually to get a grab to the laundromat. We did full service so we were able to drop our clothes off and head to the office. We had some difficulties calling a grab, so we took a trike to the SM and had to walk the rest of the way to FNRI. We spent our time in the office completing a write-up/reflection on our previous deployment in Pangasinan. A good friend of mine from high school happened to be in Manila for a few days, luckily our schedules lined up and we were able to meet for dinner. It was really refreshing to see a familiar face in a foreign country. 

7.13 Originally we were supposed to be traveling to Cavity City for our final deployment, however due to some complications it was decided that it was best for us to leave the following day. I spent the unexpected free day taking a nap and packing my bags. For dinner, we went to get sushi at the SM and later went to see a movie.

Vitamin A Lab
Urine samples

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