UPMin’s Rabies Research Team Wins Award in ‘Pasidungog 2023: Garbo sa Dabaw’

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DAVAO CITY — The University of the Philippines Mindanao’s (UPMin) Rabies Research Team has won an award in “Pasidungog 2023: Garbo sa Dabaw”, an 86th Araw ng Dabaw event.

A proud and smiling UP Mindanao Chancellor Lyre Anni Murao.

UPMin Chancellor and Professor of Virology Lyre Anni E. Murao received the award on behalf of the team in ceremonies held on March 8, at Acacia Hotel in Davao City. “The City Government of Davao acknowledges your relentless support in the initiatives and programs of the local government in 2022, enabling the city to achieve economic sustainability,” said City Mayor Sebastian Z. Duterte during the awarding ceremony.

Dr. Cerelyn B. Pinili of the City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO) nominated the UPMin Team for their contribution to the CVO’s efforts in 2022. The nomination cited the UPMin team’s “continuing rabies research, delivery of trainings for CVO personnel, the policy recommendations which contributed to the city ordinance on responsible pet ownership, and the RabCast Rabies Dashboard that helped in the planning and implementing the CVO’s rabies control interventions.”

The UPMin rabies research started in 2018 with the Synoptic Study on Transmission and Optimal Control to Prevent (STOP) Rabies. This research program, led by Professor Murao, brought together experts from the fields of biomathematics, economics, human health science, and veterinary medicine to do research for a rabies-free Philippines, with Davao City as a case study.

Manila-based Commission on Higher Education’s Discovery Applied Research and Extension for Trans/Interdisciplinary Opportunities (CHED DARE TO) funded the study. UPMin collaborated with the CVO, Davao Medical School Foundation, Inc. (DMSCFI), Davao City Health Office (DCHO), and participating non-governmental organinzations (NGOs). The STOP Rabies program produced policy recommendations that were used to support the local government units’ (LGU) actions in preventing rabies spread and minimizing human rabies incidence, and information, education, and communication (IEC) materials for the CVO campaigns.

WHO aims for zero incidence of rabies in 2030

The rabies research was continued in 2021 by the RabCast research project. The “RabCast: Proof-of-Concept for a Forecasting Tool for Rabies Spread in Davao City Through Combined Genomic and Mathematical Approaches,” led by Dr. May Anne E. Mata, a professor of Applied Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science (DMPCS), was undertaken in collaboration with the CVO, with funding support from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research Development (DOST-PCHRD).

The program developed the RabCast: Rabies Dashboard, a web-based application which uses historical data and forecasting tools for rabies data processing, analysis, and management. Justine Rome Ardepuela was lead developer of the RabCast Dashboard, supported by research assistants Dejell Anne Satur, Feby Kirstine Evangelio, Jessel Babe Capin, and Angela Sanque.

CVO personnel were trained in the RabCast Rabies Dashboard navigation, data input and simulation by the UPMin Rabies Research Team from 2021-2022.

The CVO has adopted the RabCast Rabies Dashboard for their strategic and proactive implementation of rabies control, such as to identify high-risk areas as targets for intensive IEC campaigns, and to implement control measures to mitigate rabies spread.

Now dubbed as STOP Rabies Mindanao research team, the group will continue to serve the city through its Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-funded RabDash DC project led by Ms. Sherelyn Evangelio of DMPCS.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a goal of zero-incidence of Rabies by 2030, through its Zero by 30 program. As of December 2022, Davao City has recorded 19 cases of canine rabies, with 13 human deaths recorded for the entire year. (/)


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