The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) had its humble beginnings soon after the culmination of over a decade of negotiations between the governments of the Philippines and Japan for the establishment of a tropical medicine research center. RITM was tasked to plan and implement research programs for infectious and tropical diseases.
The original building facilities of RITM, which included a laboratory wing and a 50-bed hospital for patients with infectious diseases requiring tertiary care, were inaugurated on April 23, 1981.
In 1984, RITM’s facilities were expanded to include a building for animal research and laboratory animal breeding.
Through another grant-in-aid from the Japanese Government, the RITM Center for Training in Tropical Infectious Diseases was established for in-country and third country training activities in 1989.
In November 2000, the Biologicals Production Service (BPS) of the Department of Health (DOH) was formally merged with the RITM. The BPS was established as a vaccine laboratory in the country, with the smallpox vaccine as its first product. The vaccine laboratory was later expanded to produce other vaccines as well as anti-sera.
The merger of RITM and BPS gave rise to a more comprehensive and logical approach in the control of infectious and/or tropical diseases through research and biologicals production.
In 2000, RITM was designated as the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for dengue, influenza, enteroviruses, measles and other viral exanthems, polio, tuberculosis and other mycobacteria, bacterial enteric diseases, mycology, emerging diseases, malaria and other parasites.
It is also the confirmatory testing laboratory of blood donor units for the National Voluntary Blood Services Program; the coordinating center for antimicrobial resistance surveillance; a provider of the National External Quality Assurance for Bacteriology, Parasitology and Mycobacteriology; and a WHO-recognized National Influenza Center.
Thirty years after its establishment, RITM has emerged as a center for excellence in health research using the tools available in epidemiology, clinical medicine supported by microbiology, parasitology, public health, virology, immunology, molecular biology, pathology and behavioral/social science.
To be relevant to the national health policy and strategy, the research efforts of the Institute have been directed towards the development of new diagnostic techniques, and effective and efficient strategies for the control of infectious and/or tropical diseases. Its research efforts are being disseminated through local and international publications, presented in various scientific meetings and submitted to the health policy-making bodies.