Former health secretary demands distribution of COVID-19 test kits to regions

Published March 13, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Jannette Garin Friday called on the Department of Health to reassure people outside Metro Manila about the efficient and fast distribution of PCR testing kits from the World Health Organization.

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin gestures during the Inquiry into the implementation of the DOH Health Facilities Enhancement Program including the alleged irregularities in the Barangay Health Stations Project in Pasay city, July 4, 2018. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
Iloilo 1st district Rep. Janette Garin

This developed as Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor called on the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) to shoulder the full cost of treatment of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

For her part, ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Nina Taduran lauded the decision of President Duterte to order a community quarantine of the National Capital Region by swiftly declaring the area under Code Red Sub Level 2 to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“I would like to call on the DOH leadership to facilitate the fast and efficient distribution of WHO’s PCR testing kits from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to our sub-national testing laboratories as soon as possible,” said Garin, a former secretary of health.

Being the National Reference Laboratory for emerging infectious diseases, the RITM is custodian of the WHO teting kits for COVID-19, which should be distributed immediately to designated sub-national laboratories “to better equip them” in fighting the disease.

The following are the sub-national laboratories: Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health.

According to Garin, the medical technologists of these laboratories were trained at RITM weeks ago.

She said the testing kits are basic necessities in allowing non-NCR areas to combat COVID 19.

“Now, our medical technologists have been trained but the kits have not yet been distributed,” Garin said.

Defensor, vice chairman of the House committee on health, said the House panel issued a strong appeal to Philhealth to fully cover COVID-19 patients.

‘I am particularly concerned about poor patients. If you don’t shoulder the full cost of treatment, they just might die because they cannot afford COVID-19 treatment,” he told health officials in a recent committee briefing.

In a press statement, Taduran said Duterte’s action was timely and could spell the country’s best chance of winning the fight against COVID-19.

“Fifty-two COVID-19 positive cases might be a small number, but waiting for it to increase before doing something is a recipe for disaster,” Taduran said.

The House Asst. Majority Floorleader also called on the public to fully cooperate with authorities to help guarantee the defeat of COVID-19.