July 22, 2020
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is giving additional support to the Philippines' COVID-19 response through laboratory equipment and supplies for use of the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) and San Lazaro Hospital as virus cases rise. The laboratory equipment and supplies will further boost the testing capacity of the two facilities and ensure quality of test results.
Said support complements the earlier JPY 50 billion COVID-19 Crisis Emergency Support of Japan to the Philippines that sought to strengthen the Philippines' response to the pandemic and revitalize economic activities.
Both RITM and San Lazaro Hospital are institutional partners of JICA in addressing public health challenges since the 1960s. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the Philippines ranked second in Southeast Asia in total number of COVID-19 cases at 68,898 (as of 20 July 2020) next to Indonesia's 88,214. Government statistics also pointed to high unemployment in the country due to the effect of COVID-19 to the economy.
"COVID-19 is not only a challenge of one nation, but of the rest of the world. JICA will continue to work closely with our partner nations like the Philippines, as we have done in the past, so we can get through this public health challenge together," said Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo of JICA Philippine Office.
JICA expressed confidence that through international cooperation, the global community will overcome the current challenge.
It can be recalled that JICA's cooperation with the Philippines on addressing public health began in the 1960s at the height of the cholera outbreak. A Philippine-Japan Joint Commission on Cholera Research has led to the establishment of a research institute for infectious diseases. Through this cooperation, the Department of Health (DOH) established the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) through a grant from JICA. The RITM, to date, is at the forefront of coronavirus testing and diagnosis in the country.
Meanwhile, JICA has been working with San Lazaro Hospital in pilot testing an advanced technology that a Japanese company developed for easy and rapid diagnosis of Tuberculosis (TB) in the Philippines. The technology aids in decreasing risks of secondary infection among TB patients.
JICA is the world's largest bilateral aid agency with about 100 overseas offices globally. It is also a major Philippine source of Official Development Assistance (ODA), with 3.6 trillion yen cumulative ODA assistance amount as of 2018.