June 17, 2021

PH and the US have completed the P1.1-B initiative to combat agro diseases.

The Philippine and US governments have agreed to a five-year biological threat capacity-building collaboration worth about PHP1.1 billion (about USD22.7 million), according to the US Embassy in Manila.

The Biological Threat Reduction Initiative (BTRP) of the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) began the program in September 2016, with the construction and renovation of seven Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratories throughout the nation.

At the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, it also sponsored 15 bio-safety and security courses, 26 quality management courses, four table-top exercises, 27 laboratory staff workshops, and equipment fielding and training.

The collaboration also tackled many new problems in agriculture, such as avian influenza detection and monitoring and African swine fever (ASF).

Dr. Ada Bacetty, DTRA’s BTRP head, stated, “We are pleased of the work our collaboration has accomplished since 2016 to improve the Philippines’ capacity and competence to identify, diagnose, and report hazardous infections.”

“Now that the Philippine government has fully operationalized these laboratories, we look forward to the next chance to collaborate with our important Philippine friends, partners, and allies,” the official said.

These labs, according to the US Embassy in Manila, would act as a “primary line of defense” against hazardous diseases that impact agriculture, including those that have the potential to harm people.

William Medrano, Undersecretary for Livestock and Chairman of the DA BSS Project Steering Committee, stated, “I can confidently state that the intended result of the BSS (Bio-Safety and Security) project was achieved.”

He said, “We were able to upgrade certain labs and institutionalize quality management, which is extremely essential when managing labs.”

According to the embassy, BTRP and the Philippines’ future collaboration will encompass the human health sector.

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