Bangsamoro Govt eyes another COVID-19 test lab in Marawi

COTABATO CITY– Another laboratory facility to run diagnostic test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is being eyed in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as part of the Bangsamoro government’s strategy in boosting its capacity to prevent the spread of the disease, a report by Manila Bulletin said yesterday.
A P15-million budget has been earmarked to develop a testing facility at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) in Marawi City.

BARMM Cabinet Secretary, also Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) Spokesperson Mohd Asnin Pendatun said in a recent radio broadcast over Bangsamoro Multimedia Network that there was a need to strengthen and increase their testing capacity in order for the region’s quarantine strategies “to be really effective.”

The BIATF saw that with the influx of locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the region, there was a need for them to increase their isolation facilities and testing centers to cater these individuals, Pendatun said during the interview.

“So there really a need for testing (isolation) centers and testing capacities,” Pendatun also said.

Pendatun said the proposed P15-million allocation will be used to upgrade the designated laboratory of the APMC to make the hospital “capable of doing COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. 

The good thing there (APMC) is they already have a ‘GeneXpert’ machine like the one that we are using at CRMC. They only need the cartridge and renovation of the laboratory to meet the requirements in order to conduct the PCR test),” he said as quoted by Manila Bulletin.

“So, we hope with our sincere effort to release our testing capacity in the region, is for this to be approved and accredited immediately by DOH (Department of Health), WHO (World Health Organization), and RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine),” Pendatun added.

The BIATF spokesperson also bared that there were already existing GeneXpert machines all over the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Maguindanao, which were being used to detect tuberculosis (TB).

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim also bared the intent of the Bangsamoro government to boost the region’s testing capacity by putting up COVID-19 testing laboratories in the island provinces of Sulu, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi.