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Acta Medica Philippina is the official medical journal of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and the College of Public Health. It was conceptualized and first published in 1939. The medical consultant staff contributed as authors of scientific papers that were largely based on their experiences at the Philippine General Hospital, and the College of Public Health. During this time, the Acta received wide coverage and was widely regarded as “the” medical journal of the Philippines, and perhaps, Southeast Asia. The Acta was widely circulated across medical libraries in Asia and the United States and its articles, largely dealing with tropical maladies and the local Philippine medical condition, were widely read all over the world. Rotavirus enteropathies and the now famous “Rotor” syndrome were first described in the pages of the Acta.
However, this popularity was short-lived and faded slowly starting in the late 60’s and 70’s due to lack of scientific papers and the lack of impetus for research. The growth of specialty medical societies, which published their own journals heralded the death blow to the Acta.
Still, the Acta struggled on and continued to be seen in print despite publication delays, lack of publishable material, and financial difficulties.
By 2003, the Acta which was one and a half years late in its publishing schedule, had a new Editor-in-chief, Dr. Jose Ma. C. Avila. Together with his editorial staff, and with the support of the Dean of the UP College of Medicine, Dr. Avila decided to relaunch the Acta and change its look, its editorial policies, and its goals, which was reoriented towards the national health agenda and tried to encourage articles that were more of a “general” medical nature. Review and solicited articles were also encouraged, and a stricter editorial policy was implemented to realign the journal to conform with international standards. One major change is the decision to form an “external peer review board.”
Years after its relaunch, Acta Medica Philippina is now The National Health Science Journal, chosen by the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
For the first time in perhaps twenty years, it is publishing on time. It has, at present, an editorial staff of eight, mostly from the National Institutes of Health, the College of Public Health, and the Philippine General Hospital, all with expertise in writing, publishing and research. It has an external peer review board of more than 80 individuals, most of whom are senior faculty or alumni of UP Manila. The Acta also has been professionalized with an editorial office and full time staff. From 5-10 papers submitted to its office, the Acta now receives 30-40 papers for consideration for each quarterly issue.
The Acta has also been included in the WPRIM (Western Pacific Regional Index Medicus) and abstracts of its article are uploaded into the WPRIM website, an initiative of the WHO of which its editor is a temporary adviser and member of the WPRIM editorial board.
The Acta has also been accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as among the few refereed journals (Category A-2) since October 2010.
As of October 2011 the Acta has been accepted into, and officially being indexed in SciVerse Scopus, world's largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and quality web sources. All content of the Acta has been uploaded to Scopus since 2012.
Acta Medica Philippina, really, has gone a very long way since it was first published more than 70 years ago. It is being widely distributed throughout the Philippines through medical libraries and hospitals and it's articles have assumed national importance. It soon hopes to acquire international exposure through Scopus and other indexing services.