October 29, 2021
Rapid test kits for rabies were launched in the Philippines recently to support early detection of rabies in high-risk areas.
The test kits were developed under a technical cooperation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) called "Establishment of the One Health Prevention and Treatment Network Model for the Elimination of Rabies in the Philippines", also known as the "Japan and Philippines One Health Rabies" (JAPOHR) Project.
The Immunochromatographic Test Kit (ICT Kit) for rabies supports easy, fast, and accurate diagnosis of the disease. Rabies diagnosis take about 2-3 hours with the use of a microscope and an incubator in normal circumstances. With the new ICT kits, diagnosis is radically sped up to 20-30 minutes without the use of said equipment, accelerating detection and start of treatment.
"The ICT kits offer an innovative way to tackle rabies prevention and diagnosis in the Philippines. At this time when public health is an important issue in development, the test kits for rabies can contribute to the eradication of one of the common diseases in the Philippines and help improve the quality of life of people," said Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo.
Dr. SAITO Nobuo demonstrated the use of the rabies ICT kits to JICA Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo and DA-BAI officials.
Japanese expert Dr. SAITO Nobuo, Deputy Chief Advisor of the project, explained that rabies has been eradicated in Japan and that the project is an opportunity to share Japanese knowhow in addressing diseases and other public health challenges. The ICT test kits were developed by Dr. NISHIZONO of Oita University and ADTEC, a Japanese pharmaceutical company in a move to provide the rapid rabies diagnosis tool in parts of the world where the disease is endemic.
JICA vows to support the rabies prevention and control program in the Philippines for the next two years by providing said ICT kits for evaluation and provide necessary trainings to all regional animal diagnostic laboratories nationwide.
Rabies is one of the oldest communicable diseases known to man. Globally, 59,000 people die from rabies every year. According to the Department of Health (DOH) rabies remains to be a public health problem in the Philippines. It is the most acutely fatal infectious disease responsible for the death of 200-250 Filipinos every year and at least one-third of human rabies deaths are among children less than 15 years of age.
Starting from the left: Dr. SAITO Nobuo, Deputy Chief Advisor of JAPOHR project; AZUKIZAWA Eigo, JICA Philippines Chief Representative; Reildrin Morales, Director of DA-BAI; Dr. Imelda Santos, OIC-Chief of Animal Health & Welfare Division.
"The ICT Kits will be most helpful in the early detection of rabies, especially in high risk areas as well as in free areas." Said BAI-OIC Director Reildrin Morales. Aside from the ICT kits, the project has recently developed the Rabies Data Share System (RaDSS) with the aim to enable the rapid One Health interventions such as contact tracing and ring-vaccinations by sharing data of rabid animals between the veterinary agencies such as Provincial Veterinary Office and Municipal Animal Office, and the human health agencies such as Provincial and Municipal Health Offices.
The JAPOHR project which began in 2018 is under JICA's Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) that promotes international research collaboration between Japan and partner countries. Under the project, DOH and DA-BAI work with Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, and Oita University.