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Upgrading of labs in Mindanao pushed

Health officials have pushed for the enhancement of disease testing laboratories in Mindanao to ensure that the island is ready for cases similar to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We need to guard ourselves and be prepared. One way of doing this is to capacitate the hospitals, to do their own molecular biolab and train them in doing the PCR and the viral molecular studies. With this kind of testing, if this pandemic happens again, we will be able to defend ourselves in terms of testing and isolating the people,” Dr. Leopoldo Vega, Southern Philippines Medical Center chief, said during Monday’s virtual press conference.

Vega said this is important to be prepared in case another emerging or re-emerging infectious disease will occur.

He also said that SPMC, being at the forefront in fighting against (Covid-19) outbreak, is a good thing as the state-run hospital has trained its personnel on the operations of molecular biology laboratory, the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the rapid-testing PCR machines. He said this was even before the outbreak of H1n1, an influenza A virus found about 10 years ago.

Vega also bared that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is looking at capacitating the Davao Region Medical Center (DMRC), which is based in Tagum City, the capital of Davao del Norte, by providing it with facilities so it can also conduct tests.

He also said that RITM is trying to capacitate one hospital in Northern Mindanao and one in Zamboanga.

“We are looking at key strategic areas for Mindanao that can conduct tests using PCR and RT-PCR machines,” he said.

Vega also said that private hospitals can also take the lead in terms of putting up laboratories to help the government in situations like the one at present.

Dr. Lenny Joy Rivera, Department of Health assistant regional director also said that DRMC already wrote a letter of intent to become one of the laboratories to conduct testing.

Rivera also encouraged hospitals to be certified as testing laboratories in the region. She said that some private hospitals already submitted their letters so that they may be capacitated and certified as testing labs.

“These hospitals will undergo evaluation if they are capable already. They have to consider and assess their human resource, trained personnel and a lot more, these will be the things to be evaluated, she said.

“It can be a great help if we improve our testing areas here in Mindanao,” she affirmed.

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