“In line with the commitments made by French President Emmanuel Macron, the French Development Agency is mobilizing to respond to this global health emergency,” the French embassy in Manila said yesterday.
AFP/Philippe Wojazer
France allots P109.4 million for Philippines COVID response system
Pia Lee Brago (The Philippine Star) - May 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — France has allocated additional funding of P109.4 million in grants to strengthen the surveillance, diagnosis and response systems of the Philippines and four other Southeast Asian countries to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“In line with the commitments made by French President Emmanuel Macron, the French Development Agency is mobilizing to respond to this global health emergency,” the French embassy in Manila said yesterday.

Within the framework of the “COVID-19 – Health in Common” initiative launched on April 9, additional financing was allocated on April 28 to a project implemented by Institut Pasteur’s ECOMORE II (ECOnomic Development, ECOsystem MOdifications and Emerging Infectious Diseases Risk Evaluation), which aims to support seven frontline laboratories in the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in the fight against COVID-19.

In the Philippines, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has been selected to benefit from the funding.

The RITM will receive direct support for additional equipment, diagnostic kits, protection for personnel, reinforcement of human resources, training and skills transfer, deployment of mass diagnosis strategies complementing current molecular diagnosis and support for data processing in partnership with France’s Institute for Research for Development (IRD) to strengthen COVID surveillance.

Due to significant disparities in health systems both nationally and regionally, Southeast Asia is at high risk as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Although only 755 cases were confirmed in the area in the first two months of the pandemic, a second wave of contagion began in mid-March, leading to more than 6,000 cases, suggesting that major challenges lie ahead.

“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,” said Yazid Bensaïd, Agence Francaise de Developpement regional director in Southeast Asia.

Prof. Pierre-Marie Girard, international director of the International Network of Pasteur Institutes, said “the ECOMORE II project is a perfect illustration of the vocation of the International Network of Pasteur Institutes which, in parallel with the work of its researchers around the world, is committed to the fight to protect people from emerging infectious diseases.”

The French Development Agency Group is a public entity which finances, supports and expedites the transition toward a more just and sustainable world.

Active in more than 4,000 projects in the French overseas departments and some 115 countries, the group promotes health, education and gender equality and is working to protect common resources such as peace, education, health, biodiversity and a stable climate.

Institut Pasteur, a foundation recognized as being of significant public benefit, was created by decree in 1887 by Louis Pasteur. Today, the Institute is an internationally renowned biomedical research center at the heart of a network of 32 institutes on five continents.

To carry out its mission dedicated to the prevention and control of diseases in France and around the world, Institut Pasteur conducts three kinds of activities:  research – particularly health-related, public health teaching and training, and the development of research applications.

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