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With the addition of seven new labs, the Department of Health is able to detect more vaccine-preventable diseases.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) is constructing seven subnational laboratories (SNLs) to detect vaccine-preventable illnesses (VPDs).

The DOH said in a news release on Thursday that the SNLs, which are spread around the country, set the groundwork for a public health laboratory network that would allow for faster confirmation of infectious diseases and more effective epidemic response.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has donated laboratory equipment and supplies valued at approximately PHP36 million.

The donations were handed over to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a ceremony at the Department of Health on Thursday.
Measles, rubella, rotavirus illness, and Japanese encephalitis will all be confirmed at the laboratory.

Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center, Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital, Western Visayas Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Medical Center, Zamboanga Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Cotabato Regional and Medical Center have all been identified as SNLs by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

“The Philippines, particularly Filipino children, remain at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases due to variable vaccination coverage rates during the last decade.” “Not only does this project provide better tools for caring for individual patients, but it also aids in more strategically responding to protect communities,” Duque said.

The SNLs allow RITM to go from being the country’s only laboratory for the detection and confirmation of VPDs to leading a nationwide public health laboratory network.

“By establishing these SNLs, we are bolstering laboratory capacity for VPD diagnosis and confirmation.” “A large laboratory network is essential for confirming early probable epidemics and allowing us to prioritize prompt public health activities,” stated RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos.

RITM will establish up needed equipment and train people at the SNLs in the coming months. In preparation for WHO laboratory accreditation, it will also create quality control and assurance measures. Within a year, the laboratories should be able to do confirmatory testing on their own.

For rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis virus, measles, and rubella virus, RITM is the country’s WHO-accredited national reference laboratory.

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