February 3, 2023

Three researchers have expressed hope that more attention would be given to researches on diseases or viruses that humans could get from animals.
In a virtual forum organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), researchers Adrian Ybañez, Remil Galang, and Melbourne Talactac said they hope the government would allot more funds to combat diseases from animals that could be transmitted to humans.
“There are some diseases that are emerging. There is not enough funding if you’re trying to boost our system compared to other countries,” Ybañez said.
He said diseases from animals seem to be the last priority in the funds of the Department of Science and Technology.
Ybañez said he has sent proposals to the DOST for the conduct a research on diseases that humans could acquire from cats.
“We are trying to explore emerging diseases, and this is challenging for the scientists as we have to convince many people,” he said.
Galang, on the other hand, said there are diseases that people could get from fleas.
Ybañez and Galang said the government has to provide funds for other diseases and needs to prioritize them as well.
Talactac, meanwhile, said research on diseases from animals, such as the African swine fever, must be given attention before the virus spreads.
DOST Sec. Fortunato dela Peña said the researchers’ reminders are welcome, but proposals will still have to go through the evaluation process and will have to compete with other research proposals.
“It will really depend on the statistics available. Do statistics show that there is a relatively high occurrence of these cases relative to other diseases?” dela Peña said.
He added in the past, the DOST is proposal-driven, unlike now that it announces researches that it wants to be done.
Philippine Council for Health Research and Development Director Jaime Montoya said there are other diseases that he thinks are more important.
“There are other diseases which I think are more important than diseases carried by domesticated animals like cats. Rabies, which still causes death in the Philippines, may warrant more support, but more on operational studies on how to conduct massive immunization of dogs to bring down the cases of rabies,” Montoya said. – PNA release