January 31, 2019
With the Philippines ranking high among the tuberculosis (TB) -burden countries in the Asia Pacific, a Japanese company Eiken Chemical Co., Ltd is sharing its advanced technology on TB diagnosis with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
The technology called TB-LAMP or Loop Mediated Isothermal Application machine is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a rapid and robust test to diagnose TB in peripheral health centers. It requires minimal laboratory infrastructure and has been evaluated as an alternative to sputum smear microscopy, still the most widespread test in use in resource-limited settings.
TB has also remained a health issue even in advanced countries including Japan, with new TB cases reported among the elderly, according to a 2016 Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association (JATA) Report. Because TB-LAMP offers easy and rapid diagnosis, identified Japanese TB patients can immediately be transferred to a hospital specializing in TB treatment, which eventually decreases risk of secondary infection.
"Japan's research institutions and private sector companies possess expertise in varying health issues. Through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), we'd like to pilot said technology to vulnerable areas in the Philippines, contribute to effectively addressing the TB burden, and promote quality of life among Filipinos," said JICA Philippines Senior Representative Ayumu Ohshima.
In the Philippines, TB mortality rate is at 25 per 100,000 population, a report from the WHO said. Worldwide, the disease kills 5,000 people every day and has resulted in various socio-economic impact, including poverty, stigma, and discrimination.
The initiative, in partnership with Eiken Chemical Co., Ltd, is part of the JICA Collaboration with Private Sector that utilizes Japanese technology and innovation to help address development issues, including health. Eiken has been in healthcare business in Asia for 80 years, specializing in In Vitro Diagnostics (IVDs), medical devices, and accessories used to perform tests on samples in order to help detect infection or diagnose a medical condition.
The TB LAMP technology has been pilot-tested in three health centers in Laguna, Las Pinas City, and Antipolo City. The TB LAMP will also be distributed in TB high-risk areas identified by the DOH, namely Province of Romblon, San Lazaro Hospital, and Commonwealth Health center, Quezon City.
JICA is supporting the Philippines' public health issues since the 1960s, including rehabilitation support for drug dependents, maternal and child health services, and construction of hospitals and research institutes to name a few.