Koronadal City, South Cotabato – Governor Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Jr, traveled to Arakan, North Cotabato in order to meet with Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., the Chief Implementer of the Philippines’ Declared National Policy Against COVID-19, to personally request for more supplies of the test cartridges for the Province of South Cotabato.
Secretary Galvez arrived in Arakan to attend the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) and the Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology (CFCST) Reservation Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) Distribution on August 25, 2020.
It can be noted that the national government has allowed the use of a GenExpert machine given by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) for the Covid-19 Testing facility at the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center (DAPPMC). This is in fact the first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in the Philippines, after the provincial government signed a memorandum of understanding with DAPPMC, a private hospital owned by the family of former South Cotabato Governor Arthur Pingoy Jr.
The DAPPMC is one (1) of only two (2) hospitals in SOCCSKSARGEN Region that has an accredited biosafety level 2 laboratory, a requirement for Covid-19 testing. The other facility is the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC).
The cartridges being used by the machine were developed by US company Cepheid under the label GeneXpert, which are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
However, the provincial government is faced with a new challenge– it is running out of test cartridges. The Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO), through Governor Tamayo, has already asked the national government to send additional cartridges to continue with its GeneXpert operation, considering that there is no other accredited supplier of such test cartridges but DOH alone.
The 16-module machine purchased by the PGSC is able to produce sixteen (16) test results in fifty (50) minutes, or a maximum of one hundred fifty (150) tests per eight (8) hours. The purpose of procuring this new machine is to aid and expand the COVID-19 testing capacity of the province.
It is said that GeneXpert would yield faster results than the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines currently used by the Department of Health (DOH) for accurate detection of the disease, and this test done by these machines is also currently being used to diagnose tuberculosis.