Mr. Takahiro Sasaki,Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), stood side by side in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, marking the inauguration of the long awaited LepCon Laboratory.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the inauguration of the LepCon Laboratory at the Lara Hall, University of the Philippines Manila – College of Public Health (UPM-CPH) on January 26, 2012. The event was graced by Mr. Takahiro Sasaki, Chief Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) on behalf of DOST Sec. Mario G. Montejo, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, Director of the Division of Health Securities and Emergency of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Manuel B. Agulto, Chancellor of the UPM, Professor Shin-Ichi Yoshida of the Kyushu University (KU) - Department of Bacteriology Faculty of Medical Sciences, Dr. Nina G. Gloriani, Dean of the UPM-CPH and Professor Emeritus Yasutake Yanagihara, the pioneering scientist in leptospirosis research in the Philippines.

In his message, read by Dr. Montoya, the DOST Secretary mentioned the importance of the establishment of the said laboratory in helping the communities affected by the disease.

He said, “The importance of early case detection and treatment cannot be over emphasized. Aside from people’s awareness of the disease, laboratory support for the diagnosis is equally crucial.”

The program for the Prevention and Control of Leprospirosis (LepCon) in the Philippines was started by the UPM-CPH on April 1, 2010 in collaboration with JICA, PCHRD-DOST, KU and the WHO. Through the collaborative work of Filipino and Japanese scientists from UPM and KU, it aims to be the center of leptospirosis research, not only in the Philippines, but also in Asia.

Mr. Sasaki and Dean Gloriani signed the Deed of Donation for the JICA-funded renovation of the 4th floor of Lara Hall as the new LepCon laboratory and procurement of new, state-of-the-art lab equipment.

Dean Gloriani expressed her appreciation and excitement for the future of leptospirosis R&D in Asia because of the establishment of the said laboratory and the progress in the joint researches of UPM-CPH and KU-Faculty of Medical Sciences.

She said, “Thank you very much and we hope that we can further expand our collaboration. Our SEAMEO TropMed Representatives are here; SEAMEO TropMed of Thailand and SEAMEO TropMed of Malaysia. I hope that we can really expand our research from the Philippines to these two countries and to the rest of ASEAN later on.”

(From Left to Right) Professor Shin-Ichi Yoshida , Dr. Takeshi Sakai, Dr. Manuel B. Agulto, Mr. Takahiro Sasaki, Dr. Jaime Montoya, and Dean Nina Gloriani.

With the attention that the leptospirosis outbreak in Mindanao is getting from the media lately, it seems impossible to believe that it is among the many illnesses that are often ignored around the world. One would only think about the lives lost due to leptospirosis on the aftermaths of typhoons Ondoy and Sendong, in order to picture how scary it must be to be afflicted with this deadly disease. Yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) includes it in its list of Neglected Global Diseases.

Dr. Takeshi Kasai, Director of the Division of Health Securities and Emergency of the World Health Organization (WHO), explained, “We know leptospirosis is not a small public health problem in our region; yet it is a neglected disease. Even from the WHO’s list of Neglected Global Diseases, it is included. It has not received any attention except during the outbreaks.”

Hence, the inauguration of LepCon Laboratory at the Lara Hall at the University of the Philippines Manila – College of Public Health (UPM-CPH) on January 26, 2012, will help build better understanding on the nature of the disease through leptospirosis R&D.

LepCon or the Prevention and Control of Leptospirosis in the Philippines was started by the UPM-CPH on April 1, 2010 in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), Kyushu University (KU) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The creation of the LepCon laboratory is just one of the many steps that the collaboration made in order to bring about better understanding on the cure and prevention of leptospirosis. So far, studies on the identification of serovars, prevention and control of outbreaks and even creation of vaccines that could help treat the disease are all making breakthroughs through the combined efforts of researches in the UPM-CPH and KU.

The plight of many people affected by leptospirosis is a sad reality that Dr. Kasai had personally seen. He understands that even though only a few researchers are engaging in leptospirosis R&D, the recent advancements in the LepCon program shows a glint of hope in the fight against this lethal, but often ignored, disease.

“When Ondoy came to this country a few years ago, we were faced with a very sad reality, a reality that many lives suffered because of a neglected disease,” he said. However, he expressed his optimism as he explained, “I’m sure that with the development of this new research program on the prevention and control of leptospirosis in the Philippines, we’ll enter a new stage in addressing leptospirosis.”

PNoy reminds PCHRD and 59 other ISO-certified agencies to continue striving for excellence in their work. Photo by the Office of the President of the Philippines

President Benigno S. Aquino III honored the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) and fifty-nine other government institutions and agencies last Tuesday, January 17, 2012, at the Malacañang for receiving ISO 9001:2008 certification.

In his speech, the President expressed his gratitude to the ISO recipients for doing their best to strive for excellence in management and governance.

“Lubos tayong nagpapasalamat sa iba’t ibang organisasyon ng gobyerno na nakakamit ng ISO 9001 Certification; patunay ito sa ipinapamalas ninyong dedikasyon at propesyunalismo sa inyong tungkulin [I am grateful to the government agencies that have received the ISO 9001 Certification; a proof of the dedication and professionalism that you show in your respective duties],” the President said.

ISO 9001:2008 requires companies and government agencies to consistently follow a quality management system in delivering government services that is recognized worldwide. The ISO certification guarantees that quality management systems have been set up, implemented and maintained by a company or a government agency.

Executive Order (EO) No. 605, which was signed on February 23, 2007, mandates government agencies to work for ISO certification of government processes towards citizen-centric services.

The certification is a testimony to the PCHRD’s mission to “practise good governance to effectively perform the Council’s role in leading, managing and coordinating the health research system.”

The President also reminded everyone to always continue striving for excellence in public service. He said that the Council, as well as the 59 other awardees, should set example to all government agencies in the country to push for honest and credible public service.

He said, “Nawa’y hindi kayo magsawang magtrabaho nang tapat at manatili kayong gabay ng iba pang mga institusyon sa bansa. [I hope that you continue to work with honesty and set good example to other institutions in the country.]”

The President with the sixty ISO-certified agencies. Photo by Office of the President of the Philippines

In the 3rd Recognition Ceremony for Government Organizations with ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System (QMS) Certifications last January 17, 2012 at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace, Manila, President Benigno S. Aquino III declares his confidence of achieving his goals to bring about reforms in the government and in public services.

“Sagisag nga po ang pagtitipon natin ngayon na marami tayong kasangga sa ating agenda ng mabuting pamamahala at nagtatagumpay na tayo sa tuwid na daan [Let this assembly be an indication that we are one in our agenda for good governance and we are in the process of achieving that],” he said.

An ISO Certification ensures that a company or a government agency abides to a set of globally recognized standards for quality management. Sixty government agencies, including the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), were given recognition by the President for acquiring ISO 9001:2008 certification.

While the President lauded the sixty agencies for having achieved the recognition, he challenged them to never stop pursuing excellence in their work. The President called for these agencies to join him in his aspiration for efficient governance and public service.

“Kaakibat ng iginawad sa inyong pagkilala ngayong araw, magsilbi rin sanang hamon at inspirasyon ito upang patuloy kayong magpamalas ng katangi-tanging pamamahala at epektibong pagtupad sa tungkulin [May the recognition that you receive today inspire you to continue with exceptional governance and effective fulfillment of your duties],” the President said.

First Southeast Asian nation to implement WHO 2009 recommendation

Another rotavirus vaccine milestone was reached today, as the Philippines became the first country in Southeast Asia to implement the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to introduce life-saving rotavirus vaccines through its national immunization program. Rotavirus diarrhea exacts an enormous toll on the health of young Filipino children and the nation’s healthcare resources:


  • An estimated 3,500 children under age five die from rotavirus diarrhea annually (12% of all diarrheal deaths).
  • 77% of children are infected with severe rotavirus before their second birthday.
  • 31% of young child diarrhea-related hospitalizations are due to rotavirus.
  • 30% of young child diarrhea-related emergency room visits are due to rotavirus.



During the 13th Asian Conference on Diarrheal Disease and Nutrition (ASCODD) in Manila, Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona announced that the Philippines will introduce rotavirus vaccines with an initial focus on children living in the poorest communities, which have the highest child morbidity and mortality rates from diarrheal diseases.

Celebrating the first Filipino babies vaccinated against rotavirus through the national immunization program, ASCODD 2012


Asia bears a staggering burden of rotavirus disease. 42% of the 435,000 annual global rotavirus-related deaths occur in Asia. According to WHO 2010 surveillance estimates, 45% of Asian children hospitalized for diarrhea test positive for rotavirus.


The demonstrated health and economic burden of rotavirus in Asia is substantial, and recent studies have shown that rotavirus vaccination can be cost-effective in Asia. However, countries in the region have not introduced rotavirus vaccines into their national immuization programs. This reluctance is due in part to the uncertainty regarding the cost to purchase vaccines. While there are a number of GAVI-eligible countries in Asia , the Philippines and many other countries in the region are lower-middle and middle-income countries and are therefore not eligible to apply to GAVI for co-financing for vaccine introduction.


In Latin America, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has developed a revolving fund to pool resources of countries to negotiate for lower vaccine prices. At ASCODD, rotavirus technical experts discussed strategies to increase the accessibility, availability, and affordability of rotavirus vaccines in Asia, including a potential regional cost-sharing model similar in concept to the PAHO Revolving Fund.


Rapid and remarkable reductions in hospitalization and deaths due to rotavirus and all-cause diarrhea have been observed in many of the 30 countries that have introduced rotavirus vaccines into their national immunization programs. The decline of severe and fatal diarrhea following the introduction of rotavirus vaccines underscores the incredible potential for rotavirus vaccines to save children’s lives in Asia and around the world. We hope that the announcment by the Philippines will encourage other Asian countries to intensify their efforts towards national introduction of rotavirus vaccines.



PATH collaborates on rotavirus vaccine activities with the CDC, WHO, UNICEF, vaccine manufacturers, and countries around the world. RotaFlash is funded by the GAVI Alliance.


For information on rotavirus disease and RotaFlash, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. us. For information on diarrheal disease, please visit DefeatDD’s website. For information on the GAVI Alliance’s support for rotavirus vaccine introduction, please click here.



Banner photo courtesy of One: Living Proof.


Other photo:


Bernd Benninghoff, GlaxoSmithKline. 13th Asian Conference on Diarrheal Disease and Nutrition (ASCODD): Tagatay City, The Philippines.


Sources for Figure:


Tate JE et. al. 2008 estimate of worldwide rotavirus-associated mortality in children younger than 5 years before the introduction of universal rotavirus vaccination programmes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. In press.
Abstract available here.


Podewils LJ et al. Projected cost-effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination for children in Asia.  Journal of Infectious Disease. 2005; 192(Sup 1):S133–45.