RITM to benefit from France’s 2 million euro-grant to support COVID-19 fight in SEA
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) will be among the seven frontline laboratories in the COVID-19 battle in Southeast Asia that would benefit from the 2 million euro-grant of the French government.
This was disclosed in a statement of the French Embassy in Manila on Thursday, saying that such a grant was part of the COVID-19: Health in Common project of its government.
“As part of the COVID-19: Health in Common project, the French government, through the French Development Agency (AFD), has allocated additional funding of 2 million euros (roughly 109.4 million pesos) in grants to the ECOMORE II initiative to support the COVID-19 responses of seven frontline laboratories located in five Southeast Asian countries,” it said.
“In the Philippines, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has been selected to benefit from this funding,” it added.
Through the grant, the beneficiary laboratory could reinforce more medical equipment, purchase diagnostic kits, and acquire more sets of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The French Embassy also said the grant will likewise “provide direct support for the response phase of the COVID-19 epidemic in the…reinforcement in human resources, training and transfer of skills, deployment of mass testing complementing current molecular diagnosis, and support for data processing in partnership with France’s Institute for Research for Development (IRD) to strengthen the surveillance of the epidemic.”
“It is essential to delay the peak of the epidemic in Southeast Asia as much as possible, as recommended by the WHO, by supporting partner countries’ monitoring policies and strategies pertaining to the spread of the virus through laboratory capacity building,” Yazid Bensaïd, AFD Regional Director in Southeast Asia, said in a separate statement.
RITM was earlier forced to scale down its laboratory operations for a week after 43 of its employees tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Currently, there are 18 laboratories across the country that were accredited by DOH to conduct COVID-19 testing.
As of Thursday, Philippine health officials have so far confirmed 8,488 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. Of this, 568 have died while 1,043 have so far recovered.
The Philippines has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases across Southeast Asia, according to the latest data from US-based Johns Hopkins University.
Singapore has the highest number of cases among Southeast Asian countries with a total of over 16,000 while Indonesia ranks second with over 10,000 COVID-19 cases.
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