The Department of Health (DOH) is establishing seven subnational laboratories (SNLs) for the detection of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) in the Philippines. The laboratories will serve as confirmatory testing hubs for common vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, rubella, rotavirus disease, and Japanese encephalitis.
The DOH said the SNLs, located in various regions of the country, will lay the foundation of a public health laboratory network for the timely confirmation of infectious diseases and a more efficient response to outbreaks. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already provided over PHP 36 million (USD 701,016) worth of laboratory equipment and supplies.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has assessed and identified the following regional health facilities as SNLs: 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.
The establishment of the SNLs expands RITM’s role from being the sole laboratory for the detection and confirmation of VPDs in the country to leading a national public health laboratory network. In the coming months, RITM will set up essential equipment and train staffs at the SNLs. It will also establish quality control and assurance measures in preparation for WHO laboratory accreditation. The laboratories are expected to independently perform confirmatory testing within the year
With fluctuating vaccination coverage rates in the last decade, the Philippines, particularly Filipino children, remain at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. With the establishment of these SNLs, the Philippines strengthens the laboratory capacity for the detection and confirmation of VPDs.
(Source: Philippine News Agency)