The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday conducted a Philippine Genomic Surveillance Consortium Stakeholder Summit in Quezon City with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The meeting was in line with the WHO global genomic surveillance strategy for pathogens with pandemic and epidemic potential for 2022 to 2032.
The establishment of the Consortium aims to support the agency in developing a roadmap to expand governance developed through the COVID-19 pandemic for genomic surveillance of other pathogens that could significantly impact public health, a statement from the DOH said.
The conference included consultative discussion on mapping current genomic capacities and capabilities, challenges and opportunities in the Philippines which underscore the governance arrangements within and across organizations, funding to support public health genomic activities, reporting of genomic data and use for public health decision making or implementation of activities, and the role of enablers and barriers. Willie Casas
DOH Assistant Secretary Beverly Lorraine Ho and Epidemiology Bureau director Alethea De Guzman attended the event, along with WHO Philippines officer-in-charge Graham Harrison, USAID deputy director Yolanda Oliveros, and FHI 360 country director Dr. Soliman Guirgis.
Interagency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases Technical Working Group on COVID-19 Variants advisors Dr. Anna Ong- Lim of the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana, and Dr. Eva Dela Paz of the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Cynthia Saloma of the Philippine Genome Center with counterparts in PGC Visayas and Mindanao were also present.
WHO’s technical partner, The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, facilitated the discussions, led by Prof. Benjamin Howden.
“Genomic surveillance has shaped our understanding of the novel SARS-CoV-2 and its many variants. Genomic data generated and shared by the global scientific community enabled countries to develop evidence-based responses including health system readiness, treatment, vaccination, and calibration of public health and social measures. We commend the Department of Health and its attached agencies for their efforts in strengthening genomic surveillance to guide public health action throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said Dr Graham Harrison, Officer-in-Charge at WHO Philippines.
The Department pledges to safeguard public health, through a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, by working with the above mentioned stakeholders. Further, the DOH assures that the sharing of expertise and knowledge will be for the benefit of the Juans and Juanas as we further develop our public health systems.
“The success of the consortium relies on coordinated efforts of our genomic surveillance stakeholders and we ask for your continued support for our surveillance activities to better prepare for and respond to emerging public health concerns,” said Ho