By Jhon Aldrin Casinas
The Department of Health (DOH) has thumbed down the COVID-19 testing center proposed to be established by the Marikina City government.
The DOH informed the city government that, based on its assessment, the proposed Marikina testing center “needs further enhancement” in order to fully “adhere to the required standards for biosafety and biosecurity.”
The Marikina City government expressed its disappointment at the decision, noting that the “disapproval by the DOH is a denial of opportunity for the people, especially those in the marginalized sectors, to gain easier access COVID-19 testing.”
Based on the findings of the team, the location of the testing center at the sixth floor of the City Health Office “still does not have the appropriate laboratory set up required for a biosafety level 2.”
The microbiological services of Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center (ARMMC), which was also proposed as one of the alternative testing facilities in Marikina, “does not have the adequate space as well to incorporate COVID-29 testing.” The ARMMC is a DOH-accredited Level 3 hospital.
Following the results of its assessment, the DOH has recommended that the city’s COVID-19 testing facility should be set up in a separate location outside of the City Health Office.
This is to minimize cross-infection and foot traffic for the protection of the health personnel as well as residents of Marikina, the DOH added.
Marikina Mayor Marcelino” Marcy” Teodoro said the city government has dedicated the entire sixth floor of the City Health Office building with an exclusive elevator for the testing center.
The city mayor has been calling for the immediate start of the proposed testing center’s operations “because the country is already under a public health emergency and this will address the need for mass testing in order to contain the transmission and spread of coronavirus.”
“Iisa lang naman ang naging puna at iisa lang naging findings nila, obserbasyon, at rekomendasyon nila [at ‘yan ay] ilipat ng lokasyon” (“They only had one observation in their findings and their recommendation was to transfer the location of the facility),” Teodoro said.
“Kung ito ang hinihingi ng DOH, gagawin namin ito. Gagawin natin ito dahil kailangan ng kababayan natin ito, lalo na ang mahihirap, ‘yung marginalized sector na walang access sa testing” (“If this is what the DOH wants, we will do it because our city residents need it, especially those in the marginalized sector who do not have access to testing),” he continued.
Teodoro has earlier pressed the DOH to allow the operation of the testing center, emphasizing that the Health department should not treat the Marikina city LGU similar to the way it would treat a private sector entity applying for a license to operate a laboratory.
“Instead, we should enter into a partnership. This is what is meant by the whole of government approach na kung saan nagtutulong-tulong ang national at ang local na pamahalaan (characterized by both the national and local governments working together),” Teodoro told reporters.
According to the mayor, the DOH should also allow the use of locally-developed testing kits for mass testing especially now that the country is facing a health crisis.