Japan will give two health institutions in the Philippines additional laboratory equipment and supplies to ramp up testing and boost the country’s fight against the new coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) said the equipment and supplies would be given to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and San Lazaro Hospital in order to “further boost the testing capacity of the two facilities and ensure quality of test results.”

“[This] support complements the earlier 50-billion yen COVID-19 crisis emergency support of Japan to the Philippines that sought to strengthen the Philippines’ response to the pandemic and revitalize economic activities,” the Japanese government’s international aid arm said, referring to the P23.5-billion loan it extended early this month.

Jica noted the RITM and San Lazaro Hospital were already “institutional partners in addressing public health challenges since the 1960s.”

“It can be recalled that Jica’s cooperation with the Philippines on addressing public health began in the 1960s at the height of the cholera outbreak. A Philippine-Japan joint commission on cholera research has led to the establishment of a research institute for infectious diseases. Through this cooperation, the Department of Health established the RITM through a grant from Jica,” it noted.

San Lazaro Hospital was Jica’s partner in pilot-testing a Japanese firm’s advanced technology in tuberculosis diagnosis. —BEN O. DE VERA

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