'Hindi natin kokontrahin': DOH vows support for Marikina City's COVID-19 testing lab

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2020 11:39 PM

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it supports Marikina City's initiative in building its own molecular biology laboratory for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing, but added there are processes to be followed before it can be used.

Speaking to DZMM, Health USec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said officials have already visited the facility, but there is a process before the facility can be used.

"I don't think we are taking long. As soon as nalaman po namin na may ganoong gagawin na molecular biology (lab), of course it is part of our mandate as a regulatory office na puntahan sila para tingnan natin. Hindi para sila ay pigilan sa ganyang plano, kundi para sila ay tulungan para sila ay magkaroon ng capable na laboratory," she said.

(I don't think we are taking long. As soon as we heard that they have a molecular biology laboratory, of course it is part of our mandate as a regulatory office to go and check. We do this not to stop them, but to help them have a capable laboratory.)

According to Vergeire, the government welcomes Marikina City's initiative, and will immediately use the facility once the results of the evaluation are released.

"Hindi natin kokontrahin, lalo na sa ganitong panahon na krisis, ang mga ganitong efforts ng ating local government units," she said.

(We will not oppose the efforts of the local government units, especially in times of crisis.)

"Ang sa atin lang, kailangang maging maingat sa ganitong pagpapatayo para hindi rin magkakaroon ng parang agam-agam at saka hindi malalagay sa risk ang ating komunidad," Vergeire added.

(We just need to be careful in building this kind of facility so there won't be doubt and so as not to put the community at risk.)

She also said the DOH will start using the facility once they receive the go signal from their assessment team.

"Atin lang ilagay sa konteksto at saka sa proseso. Kapag sinabi po bukas noong aming team sa amin na okay na, can readily start, we will do that. Bakit hindi, malaking tulong po 'yan sa gobyerno," Vergeire said.

(We have to put it in context and in process. When our team informs us tomorrow that we can readily start, we will do that. This is a big help to the government.)

In an earlier interview, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said the facility is ready to operate but is still waiting for the assessment of health officials.

"Ready na siya to operate. Ang mga machine, nariyan na rin. Yun nga lang, kanina, binisita kami ng WHO, kasama nila yung mga taga RITM, 'yung DOH, mayroon silang assessment at evaluation na ginagawa as part of the regulatory requirement of the DOH," he said.

(It is ready to operate. The machines are there. Earlier, representatives of WHO, RITM and DOH visited the facility. They have to do assessemnt and evaluation as part of DOH's regulatory requirement)

Teodoro also said he appealed to the DOH to fast-track the assessment.

"Pero ipinaliwanag ko nga sa DOH, ano ngayon eh, crisis situation, public health emergency, so they should not treat us as an applicant for a license to operate buhat sa FDA," he said.

(But I explained to the DOH that we are in a crisis situation, a public health emergency, so they should not treat us as an applicant for a license to operate from the FDA.)

"They should treat the facility of the LGU as a partner or shared facility na magagamit po natin para sa testing nitong COVID-19 (that we can use for COVID-19 testing)," Teodoro added.