ADB, Emory University, Manila Water start Phase 1 of WBE project in Metro Manila
The Asian Development Bank (ADB), Emory University-Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, and Manila Water have started the implementation of full-scale Wastewater-based Epidemiology (WBE) for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in Metro Manila.
This initiative is being conducted under the ADB’s Accelerating Sanitation for All in Asia and the Pacific program.
Representatives from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia led by Dr. Pengbo Liu, Associate Research Professor from the Emory University-Rollins School of Public Health, returned to Manila to lead the implementation of the WBE surveillance Phase 1 using the Manila Water’s molecular laboratory located inside the Ilugin Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in Pasig City.
This second visit was also focused on further developing the technical capability of Manila Water on both molecular laboratory operations and data interpretation and management strategies to ensure both the reliability of results and effective information dissemination to public health stakeholders and local government units.
Most of the activities were centered in the molecular laboratory, involving further discussions and optimization of the significant steps in sample concentration, total nucleic acid (TNA) extraction, and qPCR analysis.
Sewage and septage samples were analyzed coming from key geographical facility-based locations within Metro Manila East Zone, including sewage and septage treatment plants in UP, Ilugin, Kapitolyo, Olandes, Marikina North, Makati South, FTI Septage, and San Mateo.
The molecular laboratory was able to generate reliable and quantifiable results, with the majority of samples found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, indicating the current community-wide transmission of COVID-19 for May-June. Since its establishment, this was the first ever quantified data reported by the laboratory that could be a strong basis to craft important public health decisions.
Launched in November 2022, this project is the first full-scale implementation of WBE for SARS-CoV-2 in the Philippines, undertaken by Manila Water to be used as a helpful tool in disseminating public health-related information on COVID-19 epidemiological monitoring of different localities in the east zone of Metro Manila through the help of Department of Health.
This initiative could also further develop the capability of the Manila Water Molecular Laboratory for ensuring overall water quality through molecular detection of other emerging biological contaminants aside from SARS-CoV-2 that may be present in various water sources and wastewater effluents that may pose a high health risk, especially on the vulnerable sectors of Metro Manila.
The Government of Austria funded the WBE project through the ADB to support the regional technical assistance for improving sanitation in Asia and the Pacific in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 of achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation solutions.