December 8, 2008
Philippine government opens bird flu test facility in Mindanao
A bird flu laboratory testing facility has been opened in Zamboanga City in the region of Mindanao Oscar O. Parawan, regional director the Department of Agriculture (DA), said the Regional Avian Influenza Diagnostic Laboratory is the third in the country and second in Mindanao. Other similar facilities are in the cities of Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.
He said the P7-million laboratory was constructed here as the city, along with key areas in the Zamboanga Peninsula, is a migratory bird path and transit point of smuggled birds from countries that may have been contaminated with the virus.
The Philippines has maintained its bird flu-free status.
Located in Tumaga village, Parawan said the facility will boost Mindanao's status as a supplier of halal poultry products within the Brunei-Indonesia- Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
Halal is a Muslim manufacturing process, while BIMP-EAGA is an economic subgroup of the 10 members Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Dr Davinio P. Catbagan, director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, said the laboratory, which is also a joint project with the Japanese government, "can detect accurately, precisely and quickly the presence of avian influenza in the country."
At least three experts will man the laboratory, said Parawan.
Zamboanga Peninsula is among the top 20 priority areas being monitored by the DA's National Avian Influenza Task Force that are "vulnerable spots" because of its proximity to Malaysia and Indonesia, which had confirmed bird flu cases.
The region's Veterinary Quarantine Office has also beefed up its measures in checking poultry passing through every seaport and airport in the region.
The Philippines is part of the so called migratory fly way where thousands of shore birds, mostly from Australia, China, Siberia, and Mongolia, pass by.
US$= P48.55 (as of December 8, 2008)