In light of the Philippines’ increasing COVID-19 cases, Japan has decided to extend a helping hand – offering to boost the country’s testing and surveillance capacity.

Help will come in the form of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a governmental agency that provides socio-economic assistance to developing countries such as the Philippines. 

The agency’s senior representative, Ohshima Ayumu, said it has partnered with the Department of Health (DOH) to formulate a technical cooperation program to strengthen the Philippines’ capacity when it comes to disease control and biosafety. 

Ayumu also emphasized the importance of bolstering the country’s surveillance network, which will help in curbing the surge of COVID-19 infections.

“One way to go forward is to help improve the Philippines’ laboratory and surveillance network to help them also prepare for future public health crises,” he told Philippine Star.

As part of the cooperation, JICA has donated equipment to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa and San Lazaro Hospital – located in Manila. The new machinery will help accommodate larger volumes of COVID-19 tests and enhance overall data management. 

Apart from this, the agency also contributed to DOH’s drug treatment facilities. It provided essential medical supplies, which will lessen the possibility of COVID-19 infections in patients. 

According to Ayumu, the pandemic put a spotlight on issues that need to be addressed in the Philippines’ public health system. He notes that it’s their mission to assist the country in mending these deficiencies. 

“The COVID-19 crisis reminds nations of the strengths and weaknesses of public health systems. We aim to help develop a roadmap as well as manuals and training modules to boost the Philippines’ response strategies,” he shared. 

Just last month, Japan pledged P190 million to the Philippines – in support of its vaccination program. The funds will be managed by UNICEF.

Want more news like this one? Head over to Nation Builder PH Breaking News Section for the latest updates.

Image credit: DOH’s Official Facebook Page; JICA’s Official Facebook Page