Heads of public and private agencies signed a memorandum of agreement at the Davao del Norte provincial capitol on 19 May 2020 for the “go-ahead” of the funding and construction of a COVID-19 diagnostic laboratory in Tagum City.
Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib and Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon signed on behalf of the local government units. Dr. Bryan Dalid represented the Davao Regional Medical Center, the recipient of the COVID-19 lab. Chancellor Larry Digal signed for the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao, and Mr. Diego Suelto represented Mr. Dino Suelto of Maer Summit Konstrukt Company. Dr. Lyre Anni Murao, director of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC)-Mindanao, was the witness to the agreement.
In the agreement, the provincial government of Davao del Norte, Tagum, Panabo, and Samal cities committed P12-million for the lab. DRMC, for its part, will oversee the construction, procure the supplies and equipment, seek DOH approval, and operate the lab. Through PGC-Mindanao, UP Mindanao has provided training in molecular diagnostics for the DRMC personnel, has assisted in the lab design, will provide technical guidance and assistance in the operations, and will lend equipment for the lab as needed. Maer Summit agreed to provide technical expertise and construction services for the lab, following specifications set by the Department of Health. Maer also donated test kits to DRMC and a Polymerase Chain Reaction machine to UP Mindanao for use in the lab.
When constructed, the COVID-19 lab in DRMC will aim for accreditation from the Department of Health to become a subnational testing laboratory for the identification of COVID-19 infections.
Davao del Norte province has eight municipalities and three cities, and a population of 945,764 as of the last census in 2010. According to the province website, Davao del Norte has 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19, nine recoveries, and two deaths, as of 20 May 2020.