November 20, 2019
A pilot project introducing a Japanese technology on rapid and reliable diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB) in the Philippines concluded this month via a stakeholder forum in Manila recently.
Said forum presented the results of the project called New TB Diagnostic Algorithm implemented by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) of the Department of Health (DOH). Said project was supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through its Collaboration Program with Japanese Private Sector scheme, which aims to disseminate Japanese technologies to recipient countries such as the Philippines.
Eiken Chemical Co. Ltd., the Japanese company involved in the project and which develops and distributes medical testing devices, provided the TB-LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) testing device and dispatched this for pilot utilization in health units in the National Capital Region such as Las Piñas, Commonwealth Health Center, and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila; Antipolo, Rizal; and Municipality of San Jose, Romblon Province.
Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the Philippines has one of the highest TB incidence in the world, with 591,000 people afflicted with the disease every year or 554 people for every 100,000 population.
"The project offers options for routine TB diagnostic tool and for intensive case finding activities. It also shares Japanese knowledge and technology on TB diagnosis that can be adopted in the Philippines and utilized to improve strategies in reducing TB incidence," said JICA Section Chief Flerida Chan.
Further, findings from the pilot implementation showed that TB-LAMP can be integrated into the Philippines' current TB diagnosis system once costs and logistics are factored in. In addition, experience of pilot health centers and hospital showed that TB-LAMP can help improve diagnostics reliability of existing TB-DOTS (directly observed treatment short-course) facilities and reduce turnaround time in TB diagnosis; therefore, early treatment can be initiated. The device can also be used in limited work space and ease workload of hospital staff.
The pilot project revealed the potential of said technology as an option for routine diagnostic test in TB-affected areas in the country, including deployment to provinces with active TB cases, private clinics that hold pre-employment medical tests, and evacuation centers in disaster areas.
As part of its Official Development Assistance (ODA), JICA has been tapping the expertise and knowhow of Japanese private sector in addressing development issues in partner countries. To date, a number of Japanese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been working with JICA in areas such as health, environment, agriculture, disaster risk reduction and management, education, and welfare among others.