BARMM allocates P14 million for COVID-19 tests

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 14 April) – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has allocated P14 million for the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC) to procure medical and laboratory supplies so it can carry out diagnostic testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim (right) turns over the symbolic check to Dr. Helen Yambao, chief of hospital of the Cotabato Medical and Regional Center, on Monday (13 April 2020) so the latter can procure equipment and materials for it to be able to conduct its own tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Photo courtesy of BARMM

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Balawag “Murad” Ebrahim said as soon as he received the request from the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC), Central Mindanao’s biggest government hospital, he immediately approved the request.

“There was an initial engagement with CRMC to upgrade their capability. It was just timely, and approving it soonest is not only a duty but a responsibility,” Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim and the CRMC Chief of Hospital, Dr. Helen Yambao, signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) at the Bangsamoro Government Center here Monday.

Under the MOA, the CRMC will utilize the P14,135,500 for the procurement of medical, laboratory supplies and reagents; improvement or renovation of the CRMC laboratory; salary of contractual laboratory personnel; training of personnel; and maintenance and other operating expenses.

“It’s a symbol of hope in the fight against COVID-19. We are now in difficult times as we battle against the unseen enemy,” Ebrahim said.

Yambao said that the donation will greatly help the BARMM and Region 12 in the isolation of COVID-19 patients as well as in the mitigation of the spread of the virus.

BARMM noted that CRMC is the closest among the hospitals in meeting the requirements and technical capabilities of conducting Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or laboratory test for COVID-19.

Most patients admitted at CRMC are residents of Cotabato City and the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and parts of Sultan Kudarat.

Yambao said that as of now, CRMC sends it samples for COVID-19 testing elsewhere, like the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City or the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Metro Manila. Thus, results of the tests usually arrive late.

CRMC has so far sent swab samples for 19 suspect cases, six of whom turned out to be positive.

“The rest of the patients, the persons under monitoring (PUMs) and the mild persons under investigation (PUIs) have not been tested, and were only advised to go on home quarantine for at least 14 days,” she said. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)