BARMM vows to address hospitals’ lack of ventilators

COTABATO CITY (April 16, 2020) – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) vowed to address the lack of ventilators, a device crucial for treating 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients, in the hospitals across the region.
"In the whole region, only three ventilators are available, and these are all at the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital (MPH)," said Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan, BARMM’s Ministry of Health chief and co-chair of the region’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Covid-19.

During a press briefing here Wednesday, Dipatuan pointed out that only hospitals with intensive care units (ICUs) can have ventilators.

“As of now the only hospital in BARMM with an ICU is the MPH," Dipatuan added.

Dipatuan said 15 more ventilators are expected to be installed at MPH and other Covid-19 referral hospitals in the region through the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

"Aside from UNDP, another international relief organization talked to us and also signified to donate ventilators for BARMM," Dipatuan said.

So far, all ventilators at MPH have been procured by the regional government.

"However, since our partner NGOs pledged to provide us new ventilators that will soon be delivered, we will use the money for other important medical needs in the BARMM," Dipatuan said.

This developed as the MOH-BARMM is coordinating with the Ministry of Public Works (MPW-BARMM) for the possibility of building a Covid-19 testing laboratory in the region.

"We need to construct a separate laboratory building because hospital laboratories in BARMM are not qualified for Covid-19 testing as they lack requirements for certification," Dipatuan said.

Recently, the BARMM has allocated over PHP14 million to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC) for the procurement of medical and laboratory supplies to carry out diagnostic testing for Covid-19.

The CRMC is the only hospital in the BARMM areas of Central Mindanao that is close in meeting the requirements and technical capabilities of conducting laboratory tests for Covid-19 patients.

Another partner agency of BARMM-IATF, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), is continuously reminding the region’s over four million constituents to effectively use the handwashing and social distancing measures to protect their families and the rest of the community against the dreaded diseases.

UNICEF also prompted the people to only follow updates and official tips from verified sources like the Department of Health, UNICEF and the World Health Organization for their safety.