THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said it provided laboratory equipment worth P46 million to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the Philippines’ primary coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing site.

In a statement on Monday, JICA said the turnover of the equipment took place on March 24.

In attendance were Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, RITM Director Cecilia C. Carlos, the Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko, and JICA Philippines Chief Representative Sakamoto Takema.

The equipment includes a pharmaceutical refrigerator, an automated immunoassay analyzer, and a deep freezer.

“This assistance complements our other support to Philippine COVID-19 recovery efforts including the grant finance and technical cooperation for cold chain storage and logistics as well as Rapid Antigen Test Kits to be distributed to the Department of Health in the coming weeks.” Mr. Sakamoto said. “JICA hopes to make a certain contribution to a resilient healthcare system in the Philippines.”

The National Capital Region and 47 other locations have been placed under the Alert Level 1 quarantine setting, in which businesses and government agencies are allowed to operate at 100% capacity.

“JICA’s assistance will further strengthen the laboratory capacity of the RITM, which is vital to the country’s COVID-19 response: the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate + Vaccine or the PDITR+V strategy,” Mr. Duque said.

The PDITR+V strategy focuses on early detection by actively seeking out cases, isolating them, and administering aid as needed, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

In 2020, JICA lent P22 billion for the COVID-19 Response Emergency Support, and also provided a P22-billion Post-Disaster Standby Loan Phase 2, the statement said.

JICA’s 60 active programs in the Philippines were valued at P115 billion in 2020. — Tobias Jared Tomas