THE US and the Philippines have finished the final phase of a five-year biological threat capacity-building program worth around, aimed mainly at addressing the Philippines’ ability to handle animal diseases.
The US Embassy in the Philippines said the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency – Biological Threat Reduction Program (DTRA-BTRP) was conducted alongside the Department of Agriculture (DA) starting September 2016 to establish or improve seven regional animal disease diagnostic laboratories in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
“The program also included the provision for Philippine counterparts to participate in 15 bio-safety and security courses, 26 quality management courses, four table-top exercises, 27 laboratory staff workshops, and support to the Regional Institute of Tropical Medicine through equipment fielding and training,” the US embassy said in a statement.
Agriculture Undersecretary William C. Medrano said the partnership helped modernize laboratories and institutionalize quality management.
“I can safely say that the desired outcome of the bio-safety and security project was fulfilled,” Mr. Medrano said.
The US embassy said the program also helped address emerging diseases in the Philippines such as avian influenza (bird flu) and African Swine Fever.
It added that the partnership also included disease surveillance and laboratory security and safety training.
Ada A. Bacetty, head of the DTRA-BTRP, said the partnership allowed the Philippines to improve its capacity to detect, diagnose, and report dangerous pathogens.
“These labs are a central line of defense against dangerous pathogens affecting agriculture, including those with potential to affect humans. The capabilities developed through the BTRP-DA partnership strengthened the Philippines’ ability to detect and respond to emergent threats,” Ms. Bacetty said.
“Now that the Philippine government is operating these labs at full capacity, we look forward to the next opportunity to work with our critical Philippine friends, partners, and allies,” she added.
The US embassy said future partnerships between the BTRP and the Philippines will expand to include the human health sector. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave