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DOST eyes production of various vaccines
by Madel R. Sabater
09-February-2008 Manila Bulletin

An agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) is eyeing the production of vaccines, including an edible vaccine against rabies, as part of its banner program under health biotechnology.

According to Research Information and Utilization Division (RIUD) chief Dr. Virginia Novenario Enriquez of DoST’s Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD), the agency aims to produce vaccines under its health biotechnology program.

The target vaccines include edible vaccines against rabies, vaccine for human influenza, and schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease also known as bilharzias.

Schistosomiasis is often a chronic illness that results from infection of the blood by a parasitic flatworm called "schistosome."

"These are basically tropical diseases being addressed by developed countries," Enriquez said, adding that the project also includes the development of vaccines for malaria and dengue, among others, which are also rampant in the country.

The development of vaccines is one of PCASTRD’s priority projects in the area of health biotechnology.

The project is being done in collaboration with its sister agency, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime Montoya had earlier said there is a "need to improve facilities" to produce more "high-grade" vaccines and lessen vaccine importation.

"We don’t have the infrastructures, we don’t have the facilities," Montoya lamented. He added that the Department of Health spends P400 to P600 million per year "just for vaccines."

Montoya said the country needs to invest "half a billion dollars" to become "self-sufficient" in terms of basic vaccines such as those to cure tuberculosis, hepatitis, and measles, to name a few.

The facilities would have to be good manufacturing practices-certified to be at par with those in other countries.

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