Senator Marcos: DOH must clarify sum of daily COVID-19 tests

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Senator Imee Marcos  is calling for a bigger budget to modernize and expand the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)  in Muntinlupa, the country’s main center for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing.  

The limited number of support centers of the RITM means that the country’s capacity to conduct COVID-19 tests will be severely challenged if a widespread contagion takes place, Marcos said.  

“Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa sinasabi ng DOH (Department of Health) kung ilan ba talaga ang kayang i-testing ng RITM bawat araw, Kahit limpak-limpak pa ang testing kit na bibilhin natin, kung kulang naman sa manpower, wala rin,” Marcos said.  

“Biruin nyo naman sa recent hearing naming ditto sa Senado, inamin mismo ng DOH na meron lang silang 2,000 testing kits. Tapos ang population natin over 100 million, e paano na ‘yan sakaling lumobo pa ang maapektuhan?,” Marcos said.

Marcos lamented that more than 30 years of government neglect towards the RITM has left it undermanned and ill-equipped to cope with the sudden appearance of new viruses and the spread of infection on a large scale.

“Mag-aapat na dekada na mula nung na-inaugurate ang RITM sa panahon pa ng tatay ko, pero sa mahabang panahon mukhang dinedma lang ang importansya ng RITM at halos walang nangyaring development,” Marcos said.

At present, the RITM only has five sub-national centers that can perform COVID-19 testing: The Lung Center and San Lazaro Hospital in Metro Manila, Baguio City General Hospital, Vicente Sotto Medical Center in Cebu, and Southern Philippine Medical Center in Davao del Sur.

Marcos recommended that the RITM’s regional presence be increased as soon as possible, starting with the high-population areas of Regions 3 to 5.  

“Wala tayong duda sa galing ng Pinoy sa siyensya at kahapon lamang ay balitang may mga dalubhasa ng UP na naka-develop ng sarili nilang testing kits,” Marcos said.

“Kapag nalampasan na natin ang pagsubok na ito, dapat na talagang seryosohin ang pag-pondo sa modernong equipment at research ng RITM at karagdagang manpower nito sa iba’t ibang rehiyon,” Marcos added./Stacy Ang 

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