RITM receives new Biological Safety Laboratory Level 3

L-R: RITM Assistant Director Celia Carlos, DOH Consultant and Former Director of Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital Ruben Flores, DOH Health Promotions and Communication Service Director Mar Wynn Bello, Embassy of Japan Second Secretary Takeo Okada, Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association Associate Executive Director for International Programs, Research Promotions, and Data Health Plans Shin’ichi Takenaka, RITM Director Socorro Lupisan inaugurates the Biological Safety Laboratory Level 3

“We would like to declare that today, August 28, 2018, we are formally receiving the Biological Safety Laboratory Level 3 from the Government of Japan,” said RITM Director Socorro P. Lupisan as she welcomed the distinguished guests from the Embassy of Japan (EOJ) and the Department of Health (DOH).

The Containerized Biological Safety Laboratory Level 3 (BSL3) Facility for emerging and reemerging infectious pathogens is specifically designed to handle, process, detect, and contain indigenous or exotic microbes that can cause potentially lethal diseases through inhalation. One example of which is the Ebola Virus Disease.

With the health landscape continuously evolving, Embassy of Japan Second Secretary Takeo Okada, delivering the speech of Minister Makoto Iyori, confidently expressed that “this specialized research laboratory will extensively equip the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine with the necessary know-how in the conduct of clinically meaningful advanced research which will be most helpful during public health emergencies.”

Collaboration to strengthen laboratory diagnostic capacity
The BLS3 facility is the fulfilment of the collaboration between the Japanese Government through the Japan International Cooperation Systems (JICS), and the Department of Health (DOH) through the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The project commenced in 2014 when the world was threatened by the rapid spread of the Ebola Virus Disease. Discussions between DOH and Embassy of Japan, and then JICS and RITM-DOH led to the successful implementation of Japan’s Non-Project Grant Aide for the Introduction of Japanese Advance Products and its System (Medical Equipment and Welfare Apparatus Package).

According to RITM Biosecurity Head Felix Ramonato A. Pacoma, a series of on-site visits were done at RITM to conduct survey and discuss the overall design of the facility. Once the delivery and assembly of BSL3 was completed, Basler and Hofmann, a duly recognized certifying body, held an on-site inspection of the laboratory.

June 2018 marked the certification of BSL3 as compliant with the International Standard defined in the World Health Organization Laboratory Biosafety Manual.

“A certified BSL3 facility and equipment will protect the laboratory personnel, the immediate community, and the environment from the risk of infection and unwanted dissemination,” said Pacoma.

Ultimately, the BSL3 facility serves as the bridge between the Philippines and Japan in working together towards the fight against emerging and dangerous infectious diseases.

by Allenor Enciso, Communication and Engagement Office [RITM Web Team]