FILIPINO INVENTORS PILOT RAPID DENGUE TEST KIT IN W. VISAYAS
BIOMEDICAL INNOVATIONS. Dr. Raul V. Destura talks about the 'Philippine Landscape from Biomedical Innovations to Industry Adaptation –Transforming Challenges into Opportunities' before participants of the 3rd Western Visayas Health Research Conference held at this city which ended on Wednesday (November 7, 2018). (Photo by Perla Lena)
ILOILO CITY -- Western Visayas is one of the three pilot sites for the Filipino-invented and more affordable rapid test kit to detect the deadly dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Biotek-M is now a “matured” technology, having been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adopted by the Department of Health (DOH), and now in the pilot implementation, said Dr. Raul V. Destura, scientist and molecular microbiologist, on Wednesday.
“We are the first who developed locally the technology intended to reach the marginalized sector. The purpose of the technology is to become the new standard in terms of cost for diagnostics,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the 3rd Western Visayas Health Research Conference held in this city.
The rapid test kit for dengue is 70 to 80 percent cheaper compared with existing test kits available in the market. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology costs between PHP4,000 to PHP7,000 per test.
The Biotek-M is 100 percent government-funded: 90 percent from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and 10 percent by the University of the Philippines.
In addition to Western Visayas, it is also being tested in Ilocos Region and Zamboanga Peninsula.
“Right now, our manufacturing targets are the demand of the Department of Health (DOH),” he added.
“The challenge now is not just developing the technology. It’s for our countrymen to trust Filipino scientists developing technology. The adaptation part is a major challenge for our technology developers,” he added.
He said that while it is still on its pilot implementation, the “super target is for it to reach the barangay implementation.”
“If it reaches there, then I know that my job is complete because that is really our target--the marginalized sector. Hopefully you guys will help me convince agencies to adopt Filipino-based technology to inspire our scientists to keep on working,” he said.
“If you want scientists to be inspired by doing more for health and science development, is for his countrymen to adopt what they’re doing. Personally, it’s very difficult to compete with foreign products in your home country,” he added.
He said that their technology was supposed to go full-swing five years ago but for now they have DOH, which is one-third of their target adopters. The others are supposed to be the private health institutions and the local government units.
“This is the first locally developed technology for dengue diagnostics that has reached this far,” he said.
He underscored that if adopters are not responsive to what they are doing, then they “fail” the government and the science community.
"The technology is owned by the people because it came from your pockets. The government is just the administrator of your money. So, basically it is owned by the country, it is rightful that we adopt it and be proud of what we are doing,” he urged.
The science and technology development costs about PHP14 million and the Technology Adaptation and Promotion Institute (FAPI) added PHP11 million for the field post marketing research.
The team that developed the Biotek-M is composed of seven inventors and four support staff.
“The government is spending millions and millions of pesos to spark development in the country. I’ve never seen this much funding opportunity provided since I came back from the US in 2005,” he said.
The action of the government he said is “very encouraging.”
The 3rd Western Visayas Health Research Conference with the theme “Improved Health Outcome through Health Research and Innovation” is organized by the Western Visayas Research and Development Consortium (WVRDC) in partnership with the DOST and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). (PNA)