Bongbong Marcos: Make RT-PCR tests more affordable, accessible to the public

Published September 9, 2021, 4:39 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday Sept. 9 asked the government to make COVID-19 RT-PCR tests more affordable and readily available to the public as the country tries to jumpstart economic activities amid the surge in coronavirus cases.

Marcos, who himself was struck with COVID-19 last year, welcomed the Department of Health’s (DoH) recent decision to lower the price ceiling of RT-PCR tests.

“Malaking tulong yung pagpapababa ng price cap ng RT-PCR tests pero sa tingin ko ang mas mahalagang usapin ngayon ay kung paano natin mas gagawing accessible ito para sa mas nakararami (Reduction in the price cap of RT-PCR tests is an interesting issue but it should be made accessible to the majority). Nagmura nga, eh, nasaan naman? (It became cheap but where?),’’ he asked.

The circular released by DOH last August 26 set the price cap for the COVID-19 tests from ₱2,450 to ₱2,800 for public laboratories and ₱2,940 to ₱3,360 in private laboratories. For home service, at least ₱1,000 is added to the prevailing prices.

Marcos stressed that as economic activities resume and people’s mobility increases, more RT-PCR tests would be required since it is the only universally-recognized proof of a person’s COVID-19 infection status.

He encouraged the local government units (LGUs) to spearhead efforts in increasing locations where people may avail of the test.

“Ang naiisip nating paraan ay magpakalat ang LGUs ng mga mobile testing centers sa kada barangay upang mas marami ang mabilis na ma-test at para rin maging mas convenient sa mga tao (What we are planning is for RT-PCT tests by mobile testing centers at every barangay to serve more people in a faster way and are convenient to the people). Maaari rin silang magbigay ng mga diskuwento kung kinakailangan (They could give discounts if possible),” Marcos added.

Currently, LGUs are providing free RT-PCR tests to their residents with certain restrictions in frequency.

Marcos also encouraged the national government to increase the number of accredited laboratories that could conduct ‘Saliva’ RT-PCR tests as this would provide an alternative non-invasive option for Filipinos.

“Isa rin sa ating nakikitang paraan upang mapababa ang presyo ng RT-PCR tests ay yung pagdagdag ng accredited laboratories para sa Covid19 Saliva testing (Another way to reduce the costs of TR-PCR tests is for the increase of accredited laboratories to undertake COVID-19 saliva testing). Mas mura ito kaysa sa standard RT-PCR pero accurate rin (It is cheaper than the standard RT-PCR tests and are considered accurate). Mainam ito at hindi na kailangan ng nasal swabbing na minsan nagdudulot ng discomfort sa mga pasyente (This is more acceptable instead of nasal swabbing that sometimes creates discomfort among patients),” the former senator said.

At present, only the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) are the only accredited institutions allowed to conduct the test.