By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine government has sought the assistance of Japan to help it establish a rabies prevention and treatment network model to be able to attain its target of becoming a rabies-free country by 2020.
According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the request for cooperation is not only meant to help address the target of rabies-free Philippines by 2020 but also to come up with innovative diagnostic methods for rabies, laboratory-based surveillance system, and evidence-based interventions.
JICA Philippine Office Chief Representative Yoshio Wada has recently met with Health Secretary Francisco Duque and signed the Records of Discussion to start the project.
Slated to commence this year, the cooperation is under JICA’s Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) that promotes international research collaboration between Japan and partner countries.
According to the World Health Organization, rabies continues to be a public health problem in the Philippines and is one of the top 10 countries with rabies problem.
“It is responsible for the deaths of 200 to 300 Filipinos per year. In 2010, 257 died of rabies, and in 2011, 202 deaths were reported,” the WHO said in a report posted on its website.
Under the project, DOH and Department of Agriculture (DA) will work with Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, Oita University, National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), Kitasato University, Nagasaki University and Tohoku University.
On the other hand, Japanese experts on human and canine rabies studies and diagnostic methods will be dispatched to the Philippines.
JICA has been supporting public health issues in the Philippines since the 1960s with the establishment and upgrading of selected hospital facilities, technical assistance on maternal and child health services, tuberculosis and leptospirosis prevention and control, creation of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
Most recently, it also provided support to the construction of drug rehabilitation and treatment centers and improvement of its protocols in the country.