Rabies Research Team awarded in Pasidungog 2023: Garbo sa Dabaw
The University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin) 's Rabies Research team was an awardee in Pasidungog 2023: Garbo sa Dabaw, an 86th Araw ng Dabaw event. UPMin Chancellor and Professor of Virology Lyre Anni E. Murao received the award on behalf of the Team in ceremonies held on March 8, 2023, 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," stated City Mayor Sebastian Z. Duterte in the award.
Dr. Cerelyn B. Pinili of the City Veterinarian's Office (CVO) nominated the UPMin Team for contributing to the CVO's efforts in 2022. The nomination cited the UPMin Team's "continuing rabies research, delivery of training for CVO personnel, the policy recommendations contributing 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. It was funded by the Commission on Higher Education's Discovery Applied Research and Extension for Trans/Interdisciplinary Opportunities (CHED DARE TO). In addition, UPMin collaborated with the CVO, Davao Medical School Foundation, Inc., Davao City Health Office, and participating NGOs. The STOP Rabies program produced policy recommendations to support the LGU's actions in preventing rabies spread and minimizing human rabies incidence and information, education, and communication (IEC) materials for the CVO campaigns.
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 that uses historical data and forecasting tools for rabies data processing, analysis, and management. Justine Rome Ardepuela was the lead developer of the RabCast Dashboard, supported by research assistants Dejell Anne Satur, Feby Kirstine Evangelio, Jessel Babe Capin, and Angela Sanque.
The UPMin and CVO teams in a training session
The CVO has adopted the RabCast Rabies Dashboard for their strategic and proactive implementation of rabies control, such as identifying high-risk areas as targets for intensive IEC campaigns and implementing control measures to mitigate rabies spread. CVO personnel were trained in the RabCast Rabies Dashboard navigation, data input, and simulation by the UPMin Rabies Research Team from 2021-2022.
The Team, now dubbed STOP Rabies Mindanao research team, will continue to serve the city through its DOST-funded RabDash DC project, now led by Ms. Sherelyn Evangelio of the DMPCS.
The World Health Organization aims to zero-incidence of Rabies by 2030 through its Zero by 30 program. As of December 2022, Davao City has recorded 19 canine rabies cases, with 13 human deaths recorded for the entire year.