College of Science and Mathematics

MOA for COVID-19 lab in DRMC signed

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in News

DSC 4338rzd15Heads 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. 

Call for volunteers for a CoViD-19 testing lab

Written by Rene Estremera. Posted in News

The Philippine Genome Center-Mindanao has issued a call for volunteers who are willing to work in a CoViD-19 diagnostic laboratory in Davao del Norte. Persons who wish to participate need to have experience in RNA/PCR/qPCR and are willing to work in Davao del Norte. Qualified persons may indicate their interest by filling up the survey form at Deadline is 26 March 2020.

This call is URGENT. Davao Region has not reached its CoViD-19 peak, hence the operationalization of the lab is urgent to prevent the spread of CoViD-19 in the region.


Davao del Norte supports UP Mindanao proposal on diagnostics program for COVID-19 testing
The diagnostic lab for COVID-19 free testing proposed by the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao has gathered immediate interest from the Davao del Norte province. In a joint letter to UP Mindanao dated March 22, provincial governor Edwin Jubahib and Tagum City mayor Allan Rellon wrote, “As local chief executives, we hereby commit and support your proposal to establish a mobile diagnostics laboratory for rapid medical and public health response to COVID-19 in the province.”
Philippine Genome Center-Mindanao director Dr. Lyre Anni Murao, a professor of virology at UP Mindanao, revealed that the construction of the proposed lab and procurement of needed equipment, estimated at P15 million, will be funded by private groups while the operational costs, pegged at P10.3 million per month, will be funded by the local government unit.

“Our partners from the private sector will take charge of designing the lab to ensure it will meet biosafety standards,” she said. “The entire laboratory establishment including accreditation, design and assembly, up to equipment installation and calibration, will take roughly 7 to 8 weeks. When running at full capacity, the lab can be expected to handle 96 tests per day.”

Based on previous discussion with the Department of Health (DOH), the proposed lab will likely be attached to the Davao Region Medical Center (DRMC) in Tagum City according to UP Mindanao chancellor Dr. Larry Digal.

“DOH XI welcomed the idea of setting the lab with DRMC to supplement the capacity of SPMC so that other provinces in the Davao Region and even outside the region can be better served,” he said. “We are now working closely with the DavNor LGU on how to set up this lab as soon as possible. But just like the case of Marikina, the facility will have to be assessed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine [RITM] of the DOH before it can be operational.”

Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) Dr. Leopoldo Vega has suggested during the Philippine Information Agency online press conference yesterday for UP Mindanao “to be an independent lab” since it will take time for DOH System and UP System to sign a memorandum of agreement.

He said, “Just make sure you have the necessary accreditation. This is a molecular biology lab. There has to be a standard, protective room with negative pressure so that safety is there when they inactivate the virus. If they have that, I think the RITM would give their approval.”

To augment the personnel who will initially operate the proposed lab, PGC Mindanao has already issued a call for volunteers last March 24. Dr. Murao said, “We cannot rely fully on our partner hospital to free up their personnel to do COVID-19 tests because they are needed in other hospital operations. We need volunteers with background on molecular biology, which is crucial to process the samples.”

Volunteers must have experience on quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) or ribonucleic acid procedures and are willing to be deployed in Davao del Norte. The survey form is available here:

“While we already included in our initial proposal to the LGU funding to take care of our volunteers (i.e., compensation, accommodations, etc.), we are now crafting a separate proposal for a rigorous training on biosafety and molecular diagnostics to ensure the welfare of our volunteers. This will be submitted to the UP System for funding,” she added.
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