JICA and DOH upgrade Philippine pandemic response via national health lab network


The combined efforts of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Department of Health (DOH) in strengthening the Philippine National Health Laboratory Network will upgrade the country’s response to future pandemic threats.

At the first Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) Meeting of the Project for Strengthening the Philippine National Health Laboratory Network for Infectious Diseases (PHeLNIDS) on June 22nd, JICA and DOH experts approved the workplan to strengthen laboratory networks in terms of capacity development for Filipino health professionals on biosafety and biosecurity, genome sequencing, disease surveillance, and laboratory data analysis, among others.

“This project was initiated because of the realizations brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, that a functional network of health laboratories is very crucial in order to improve public health response not only in urban areas but also more importantly in the regions,” said Director NISHIMURA Emiko from JICA Headquarters, officer-in-charge of Covid-19 operation.

The Philippines sought the assistance of JICA at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was observed that the country lacked accredited molecular laboratories and had low-capacity testing centers due to a lack of trained personnel and testing supplies.

The JICA-DOH cooperation aims to address these issues by capacitating sub-national and regional laboratories and enabling them to conduct confirmatory tests in their respective regions. The cooperation also aligns with the newly established Office for Health Laboratories of the DOH, whose mandate includes establishing a national laboratory referral system, advancing human resource development, strengthening evidence-based research, and improving information management, laboratory surveillance, and chemical safety and supervision.

"This project is very timely as we recover and as we move forward, taking on the lessons that we've learned from our response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which made a great impact in the health system,” said DOH Project Management Division Chief Dr. Grace Fe Buquiran.

JICA has been proactively supporting the Philippines’ economic recovery from Covid-19 through various avenues of development cooperation, including providing equipment and supplies for Covid-19 response, as well as a JPY80 billion Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan and a JPY50 billion Post Disaster Standby Loan.





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