DOH defers COVID-19 testing in Marikina

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
DOH defers COVID-19 testing in Marikina
Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro opens the Marikina City Molecular Laboratory, which he says needs to be operational immediately for faster processing of tests of potential patients of COVID-19 on Monday, March 23, 2020.
Marikina PIO

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:13 p.m.) — Despite Marikina’s molecular laboratory's readiness to operate and with locally developing testing kits for coronavirus diagnoses, the Department of Health deferred approval, delaying the city government’s plan to proceed with mass testing.

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro announced this after a meeting yesterday with officials of the DOH, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, World Health Organization and the local health office.

The city government recently set up a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) molecular testing laboratory and procured 3,000 testing kits by University of the Philippines scientists.

Marikina prepared for an immediate mass testing but the center can only open with the approval of the DOH, Teodoro said. She stressed that people were in dire need to be tested.

Before the molecular lab gets a clearance to operate, it needs to undergo an accreditation process from the WHO to be able to screen samples for COVID-19, just like the seven accredited testing centers in the country.

Available for neighboring cities

Patients from Rizal, Pasig and other neighboring cities in need of testing were also supposed to start using the facilities, according to the city government.

“[The] DOH should not treat Marikina as a client applying for a license to operate a laboratory like this, it should be a partnership. This is a whole of government approach–whatever’s lacking in the national level would be addressed by the local government,” Marikina Teodoro told reporters yesterday.

The mayor also appealed for the national government to make the locally made testing kits commercially available for all, at a time when processing test results of officials is clogging the procedures.

“We have many people who are impoverished and they are the ones we want to serve. We want to respond to their needs. Desperate times call for extraordinary measures,” he added.

Dr. Imelda Mateo, head of Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, assured the DOH that all standards and protocols set by the DOH would be followed in operating the testing lab.

Marcelino Teodoro, mayor of Marikina City, meets with officials of the Department of Health, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organization on March 23, 2020 to present the city's COVID-19 testing laboratory.

“We are making sure that we would not violate standards and would follow all protocols. RITM is here with us and they are working with us to look at the facilities,” she said.

This move, Teodoro said, was in accordance with President Duterte’s Proclamation 922 ordering government agencies and local government units to immediately act to prevent loss of life, utilize appropriate resources to implement the urgent and critical measures to contain or prevent the spread of COVID-19, mitigate its effects and impact to the community, and prevent serious disruption of the functioning of the government and the community.

“We need to test people and get results immediately to provide them with supportive treatment if infected,” he said.

“It is imperative for the DOH to be proactive to the initiative of the LGU in efforts to combat the threats of COVID-19, and not merely invoke regulations to follow and comply with as well as issue guidelines, a system or network of health service delivery should be in placed between national and local government to better serve the people in times of crisis,” he added.

Meanwhile, the city government also said it would be foregoing the issuance of quarantine passes to its residents which it said was “unnecessary and prone to abuse.”


Editor's Note: The latest version of this article on Philstar.com bas been edited and lengthened.





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