Cotabato City (May 20, 2020) – The Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC) here announced Wednesday, May 20, that they have been issued license to operate as the first testing laboratory for Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) territory.
This comes after the Department of Health (DOH)-Central Office accredited CRMC to perform rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests using the GeneXpert machine that was also used for testing of TB (Tuberculosis).
“We are using Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2, an FDA-approved RT-PCR testing kit, an acceptable confirmatory testing for SARS-CoV-2 and it can run the test in 45 minutes,” CRMC Chief of Hospital Dr. Helen Yambao said during a press conference here Wednesday.
Yambao said the hospital’s “Department of Pathology has successfully complied with all the requirements to become a licensed independent hospital-based COVID-19 Testing sub-national Laboratory.”
She underscored that CRMC was inspected by DOH Central Office through the Health Facilities Services and Regulatory Bureau (HFSRB), Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), World Health Organization (WHO), and DOH 12 Regulation, Licensing, and Enforcement Division (RLED).
Meanwhile, Yambao expressed her gratitude to the Bangsamoro Government for the P14.1-million fund it provided for the procurement and upgrading of medical and laboratory supplies to carry out diagnostic testing for Covid-19.
“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the BARMM, particularly the Chief Minister (Ahod Al Haj Murad Ebrahim), Minister of Health (Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan) and other ministers of BARMM who made this project successful,” she said.
Chief Minister Ebrahim said the Bangsamoro Government remains to be a partner with health institutions, and is looking forward to expand assistance to other areas in the region.
“We congratulate the CRMC on their recent accreditation as a sub-national testing laboratory for COVID-19. This development will greatly help the Bangsamoro and Region XII as we adopt the national strategy of D.I.T.R or detect, isolate, treat, and reintegrate,” Ebrahim said.
On April 13, 2020, Chief Minister Ebrahim and Yambao signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the fund allocation. Wherein, the CRMC will utilize the fund for the procurement of medical, laboratory supplies and reagents; improvement or renovation of the CRMC laboratory; salary of contractual laboratory personnel; training of personnel; and maintenance and other operating expenses.
Yambao also said an additional bio-rad machine, a conventional machine for PCR confirmatory test, has been procured through the P14.1-million fund.
She emphasized the Covid-19 testing laboratory “will be accepting specimens of patients, especially for Region 12 and BARMM.”
“We are not going to accept specimens from walk-in patients to CRMC, or directly referred by LGUs, hospitals, and clinics. Only specimens from Suspect or Probable COVID-19 cases are accepted, and priority testing will be done to those critical cases and repeat tests for monitoring of COVID-19 positive cases,” she added.
The laboratory will accept specimens from the RESU (Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit) of the DOH Regional Office XII and the Ministry of Health (MOH) – BARMM, from 8am to 5pm daily, including weekends and holidays. (Bureau of Public Information)
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