JICA aids RITM in its pandemic response
RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos (1st from left) and DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III (2nd from left) receives COVID-19 related equipment worth approximately PHP46 million from JICA through Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko (3rd from left) and JICA Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema (4th from left).

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) formally received the PHP46 million worth of equipment and supplies from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which advanced testing, surveillance, data management, and telemedicine services of the Institute amid the pandemic.

In the ceremonial handover last March 24, RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos attested that mounting a response to a pandemic which has gone beyond two years warrants continuous availability of laboratory equipment for testing, instruments for patient care, and supplies to support a sustained, effective, and rigorous response.

“JICA’s initiative to support the Institution’s pandemic response supplemented the requirements and demands of RITM as an agency task to respond to COVID-19. I am thankful to JICA for their constant support to RITM throughout the years,” said Dr. Carlos.

JICA extended laboratory-based automated testing platforms that are currently being used to support RITM’s assay evaluation and seroprevalence studies; laboratory freezer and refrigerator to store COVID-19 samples; CCTVs to reduce the need for frequent face-to-face contact with confirmed cases; personal protective equipment (PPE) to manage patient care; and ICT equipment to facilitate telemedicine services and analyze data.

Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko expressed that these specialized medical equipment will capacitate RITM to conduct clinically meaningful and progressive research that would be paramount in times of public health emergencies.

Even before the onset of the pandemic, RITM and JICA has been working hand in hand in various research studies on polio, rabies surveillance, and recently on SARS-COV-2. In fact, it was through a grant-in-aid from JICA that RITM was established in April 1981 with the signing of Executive Order No. 674.

Ambassador Koshikawa ended by expressing his “sincere hope that RITM will continue to be the strong health bridge between Japan and the Philippines in contributing to the prevention and control not just of COVID-19 but also other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.”

Through a continued partnership with JICA, RITM aims to strengthen its goals and its initiatives to address the challenges that comes with infectious diseases and the evolving health landscape.

by Anel Azel Dimaano

by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Office