US-funded animal disease laboratory opens in Tarlac City

An animal disease laboratory in Tarlac City funded by the United States government is now operational, and should help the Philippine government provide an accurate diagnosis of major animal diseases, prevent its spread, and ultimately protect the livestock and poultry industries in Central Luzon. 

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced that the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL) located in Paraiso, Tarlac City is now ready to provide services and tests needed for trade, disease surveillance, animal health, regulatory, and research.

The laboratory, funded by the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (US DTRA), will also serve as a training facility for veterinary clinicians, students, and professionals.

At present, there are RADDLs in Region 2, Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, General Santos, and Davao.

US DTRA Chief Major Brian Smith said the Tarlac laboratory is part of an integrated network of laboratories that aim to identify diseases or pathogens prior to them spreading throughout the region, identify them early, and help mitigate the risk before it spreads.

“It aims to promote biosafety and biosecurity culture in biological testing laboratories in the DA, serve as training ground for DA Biosafety Officers, lead in the research and development that will contribute to decision-making, policy development and regulations, and provide accurate laboratory data analysis for formulation of regulations and standards,” Smith said.

For his part, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the facility will help improve the measures against animal diseases that have often affected provinces in Central Luzon. 

The region, over the past years, has been pestered by animal diseases like foot and mouth disease, bird flu, and African Swine Fever (ASF).

“Now with this facility here, we are positive that we can prevent and hopefully put an end to the most dreaded animal disease that is the African Swine Fever that has paralyzed the country’s hog industry for more than a year now, and has threatened to demolish the billion-peso industry,” Dar said. 

Dar said that RADDL 3 could provide an accurate diagnosis of major animal diseases and enable the government to decide quickly on what to do to prevent the further spread of any animal diseases here in Central Luzon.

During the opening ceremony of RADDL 3, Dar mentioned that the DA is set to establish a Transboundary Animal Diseases Center at the Central Luzon State University in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

“This center, which will be replicated in every region, will be allocated P245 million under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or ‘Bayanihan 2’ that has just been signed by our beloved President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Dar further said.