Politics

2023 budget boosts virus R&D funding by over 58%

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RITM.GOV.PH

FUNDING for virus research has been raised by 58.14% to P419.3 million to support the establishment of the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said.

“We need to be proactive and fund a Virology Institute composed of highly-trained experts who will conduct studies on emerging virus strains as quickly as possible and prepare us in case of health emergencies,” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said in a statement.

In his first State of the Nation Address last July, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. cited the creation of the institute as a legislative priority.

Speaking in his budget message, Mr. Marcos said that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic highlighted “the need for faster identification of and response to outbreaks.”

“At present, the Department of Science and Technology’s (DoST) Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)” have taken the lead on virus-related medical and scientific research, the DBM said.

Specifically, these research projects include the identification of viruses in the Philippines with pandemic potential, tests on combination therapy for drug-resistant bacteria, the development of diagnostics for food and water-borne bacterial pathogens, and an on-site detection method for African Swine Fever.

The 2022 General Appropriations Act also sets aside P360.5 million to establish the institute, including its operations to a second year, and P356.2 million to acquire scientific and laboratory equipment and vehicles.

This week, legislators filed House Bill 308, which seeks to establish the institute, proposing research funding of P2 billion.

The 2023 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways sets aside P250 million to build the institute’s facility in Capas, Tarlac. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles