TWO House leaders said Tacloban City is now prepared and very capable to handle screening for coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) and only awaiting Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s authority for its health officials to begin examinations.
House majority leader Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez and Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez stressed the importance to establish additional facilities for COVID-19 laboratory tests as cases continue to rise.
“The lack of testing centers may have caused the underreporting of COVID-19 cases and has been clogging up our already overloaded hospitals,” the Romualdez couple pointed out.
“Help us and we will help ourselves. Tacloban City with the help of Mayor Alfred Romualdez has done its necessary inventory of assets, including supplies, manpower, laboratory and logistical needs. We are prepared and capable to handle COVID-19 screening,” they stressed.
“We are urgently appealing for DOH’s favorable action on our request to establish testing center in Tacloban City for COVID-19 control,” they said.
The couple said early detection of potential COVID cases will help address the fear that the growing health crisis may overwhelm the healthcare facilities.
“These testing centers will promptly identify and respond to any potential COVID-19 case which will help our campaign to curb the spread of the virus,” said the Romualdezes.
The Romualdez couple also said that their request “is also being supported by private-public partnership to further boost government’s campaign against the dreaded disease.”
“We have to get our act together to protect our people who badly need quick and efficient healthcare delivery system,” they added.
Martin Romualdez is the chairman of the House Committee on Rules while Yedda Romualdez is the chairperson of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children.
Last March 20, Tingog Party-list president Glenn Capucion and Health Regional Director Minerva Molon presided over a meeting in Tacloban City on the proposed establishment of a testing center in Tacloban City to ensure public health in Region VIII.
The meeting was attended by Tacloban City Health Office officials led by Dr. Gloria Fabrigas, Atty. Aldrin Quebec who represented Mayor Romualdez, Tacloban City Councilor Evangeline Esperas, and others.
Although the city still has no confirmed case of COVID-19, Mayor Romualdez placed Tacloban under community quarantine to ensure public safety.
Philippine Medical Association of Medical Technologists (PAMET) officer Carlo Chris Apurillo and St Scholastica's College Tacloban Department of Medical Laboratory Science chairperson Clive Ivan Mercado submitted a letter to the Department of Health (DoH) to allow a testing center in Tacloban City.
The DOH has five World Health Organization (WHO)-accredited facilities for all laboratory tests on COVID-19 that include Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) or the only national laboratory for infectious and tropical diseases in Muntinlupa City, San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Baguio City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, and
Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
On March 20, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP NIH) has been tapped to handle the testing.
Vergeire said the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City and Bicol Public Health Laboratory in Legazpi City are also being prepared as sub-national laboratories for COVID-19 testing.