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UP Mindanao, SPMC to train more medical personnel for Covid-19 testing facilities


DAVAO CITY – The Mindanao campus of the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) would soon start a series of training for medical personnel to handle the human resource demand of the emerging testing centers across Mindanao for Covid-19 cases.

UP Mindanao Chancellor, Prof. Larry Digal, and medical center chief, Dr. Leopoldo Vega, signed an agreement on May 26 for a joint intensive training program of medical personnel on SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics.  

SARS-CoV2 is a novel coronavirus identified as the cause of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that began in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and spread worldwide.

The UP Mindanao initiated the program to to train more medical personnel to operate additional Covid-19 testing centers in Davao City and in other areas in Mindanao, including its own testing center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, that is being worked out jointly with another government hospital, the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC).

UP Mindanao, through its Philippine Genome Center-Mindanao (PGC), would carry out a 14-day training for selected medical technologists and laboratory analysts, beginning with an online module on the molecular biology principles for SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), the UP Mindanao said in a statement.

This would be followed by extensive hands-on and practical exercises on laboratory procedures and workflow simulations at the UP Mindanao campus in Mintal, this city.

After this, the trainees would move to the SPMC for the clinical diagnostics practicum and assessment program, which involve actual handling and processing of specimens and operations in a SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics facility following guidelines established by the Department of Health (DOH).

The trainees who successfully complete the training program would undergo assessment by the Department of Health before they would be allowed to work in a Covid-19 testing facility in their respective institutions.

The initiative was part of UP Mindanao’s Covid-19 response, it said, and includes the PGC-Mindanao’s diagnostic program for the testing facility at the DRMC in Davao del Norte and another assistance to the Davao City government on the city plan to develop its health center in Los Amigos, Tugbok District into a testing laboratory.

The UP Mindanao is also doing the Interdisciplinary Applied Modeling (IAM) laboratory’s work on Covid-19 mathematical modeling and data analysis as input for policy making.

“Public and private hospitals in Davao Region are establishing Covid-19 testing laboratories to address the increasing number of confirmed cases and the limited number of testing facilities. Through this joint program, we can address the need for more personnel to handle clinical specimens and perform the necessary molecular tests,” Digal said.

Aside from the SPMC which runs 300 tests per day, the Davao City One World Diagnostic Center, Inc. was the latest private testing facility to pass the five-stage accreditation process by the DOH for Covid-19 testing, the city government here said. Johann Go, sales representative of Davao One World Diagnostic Center, Inc. said that for now, the center can accommodate 200 tests per day as but disclosed of more real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine to be delivered.

“When the machines are here, we can accommodate between 1,000 and 1,200 tests per day,” he said.

Before this accreditation, Sec. Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the national government’s response against Covid-19, said last week that PCR machines would be added to the SPMC, and the Ayala Foundation would help automate the hospital to increase its testing capacity to 2,000 tests daily.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said that two other facilities – the Davao Doctors Hospital and DOH Tuberculosis Center are currently in the third stage of accreditation.

Meanwhile, the city-owned Los Amigos Health Center is waiting for the approval of the permit to construct its testing facility. It is eyed to be operational July this year.

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