DAVAO CITY, Philippines – An alliance of doctors and health workers urges the Department of Health (DOH) to set up a minimum of one testing center per region to speed up the testing for COVID-19.
The Coalition for People’s Right to Health made this statement after the DOH announced on Monday it has set up five national laboratories to operate alongside the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
DOH Undersecretary Maria Roasrio Vergeire said with these new laboratories, they can now run up to doing 1,000 tests a day.
RITM Director Celia Carlos said with this setup the results only take two to three days.
CPRH convener Dr. Josh San Pedro welcomed the department’s effort but said this is still not sufficient.
“CPRH stresses the need for a much shorter time of processing the results. This can only be done if there are plenty of testing centers working along the RITM and its subnational laboratories,” San Pedro said.
CPRH Cebu chapter also pointed out “mass testing is necessary to isolate patients and prevent other people from being exposed to the highly contagious viral disease.”
The group noted that there could be a case of underreporting because of the limit in mass testing.
“The number of cases presented by the DOH does not reflect the real health situation because only selected people are tested for COVID-19. Most test results are being released when the patient has died,” their statement said.
San Pedro reiterated the call of the World Health Organization mass testing is the key to addressing the pandemic.
“The country’s lockdown without the component of massive testing is not a strategic way of solving the health crisis we are facing. Instead, it is only buying time,” San Pedro added.
The Subnational laboratories identified were San Lazaro Hospital, and Baguio General Hospital & Medical Center for Luzon, Cebu’s Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center for the Visayas, and Davao City’s Southern Philippines Medical Center for Mindanao.
CPRH Cebu said the Sotto Memorial Medical Center has 10,000 test kits, while SPMC is reported to have 5,000 kits.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved five rapid test kits and a 5-minute test from a US manufacturer that detect COVID-19 infections. (davaotoday.com)