Manila, June 17, 2021 –The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) completed the final phase of a five-year biological threat capacity building partnership with the Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) valued at nearly Php1.1 billion ($23 million).
Beginning in September 2016, BTRP and the DA collaborated to build or renovate seven Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratories (RADDLs) in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The program also included the provision for Philippine counterparts to participate in 15 bio-safety and security courses, 26 quality management courses, four table-top exercises, 27 laboratory staff workshops, and support to the Regional Institute of Tropical Medicine through equipment fielding and training.
The BTRP-DA partnership included extensive disease surveillance and laboratory security and safety training aimed at increasing the Philippines’ biological threat reduction capacity and capability. The partnership also addressed several emerging challenges within the agriculture sector, including detection and surveillance of Avian Influenza and African Swine Fever (ASF).
“We are proud of the work this partnership has achieved since 2016 to strengthen the Philippines’ capacity and capability to detect, diagnose, and report dangerous pathogens,” said Dr. Ada Bacetty, DTRA’s BTRP chief. “Now that the Philippine government is operating these labs at full capacity, we look forward to the next opportunity to work with our critical Philippine friends, partners, and allies.”
These labs are a central line of defense against dangerous pathogens affecting agriculture, including those with potential to affect humans. The capabilities developed through the BTRP-DA partnership strengthened the Philippines’ ability to detect and respond to emergent threats.
“I can safely say that the desired outcome of the BSS (Bio-Safety and Security) project was fulfilled,” said William Medrano, Undersecretary for Livestock and Chairman of the Department of Agriculture BSS Project Steering Committee. “We were able to modernize some laboratories and we were able to institutionalize quality management, which is very important when you manage laboratories. We’d like to express our sincere thanks to DTRA for recognizing the Philippines as their partner for this very important and noble project on BSS.”
Future collaborative efforts between BTRP and the Philippines will expand upon the BTRP-DA partnership foundation to include the human health sector.