Tabuk hosts first LGU-funded molecular laboratory

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TABHUK CITY, Kalinga – The city owns the distinction of being the first local government unit to have solely funded and established a molecular laboratory that will help in speeding up the release of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results of individuals who were subjected to swab tests not only in the city but also the whole province.

Mayor Darwin C. Estrañero stated that the local government had to sacrifice the implementation of some identified priority infrastructure projects so that there will be funds that will be made available for the put up of the LGU-funded molecular laboratory to effectively and efficiently address the prolonged release of swab test results from the established laboratories in nearby Tuguegarao City and Baguio City.

He pointed out that city officials saw the importance of having to prioritize the construction of the P25 million isolation unit and the P15 million molecular laboratory to provide the availability of such facilities in the province to prevent the unnecessary delays in the release of swab test results for health workers to be guided on the interventions that will be undertaken for those that test positive for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“We believe that the put up of our own molecular laboratory is a worthy investment because we will be helping speed up the release of the swab test results of people who were tested not only those coming from the city but also from the different parts of the province and other neighboring communities in the Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera. We have to prioritize the health and safety of our people during these difficult times,” Mayor Estrañero stressed.

Last Thursday, personnel from the health department conducted an inspection on the completed structure of the molecular laboratory and the provided units of RT-PCR machine and other supplies as part of the prescribed process for the issuance of the required license to operate.

Further, medical technologists and other health workers who will be assigned by the local government for the eventual operation of the molecular laboratory will be undergoing the required proficiency test that will be administered by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) as part of the licensing procedures.

The Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) was the first molecular laboratory that operated in the Cordillera after being designated as the sub-national testing center in the north by the health department while the Luis Hora Memorial Regional Hospital in Bauko, Mountain Province was the second molecular laboratory to be operational in the region after it used its available funds to establish the same.

On the other hand, the third molecular laboratory in the region that was issued a license to operate by the health department was the Benguet General Hospital (BeGH) where the construction of the structure and the provision of the required medical equipment was personally shouldered by Benguet Caretaker Congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap.

City officials and health workers are keeping their fingers crossed on the immediate operation of the first LGU-funded molecular laboratory to help decongest the already burdened laboratories in Northern Luzon.

On December 21, 2020, the city council passed Ordinance No. 09, series of 2020 that authorizing the Supplemental Budget No. 06, series of 2020 of the city government involving an amount of P15 million that was used to fund the put up of the LGU-funded molecular laboratory.

In their posts in the social media, concerned residents not only from the city but also from the different parts of Kalinga lauded the efforts of the city government under the leadership of Mayor Estrañero for putting premium in providing funds for the put up of the city-owned molecular laboratory and additional isolation units to cater to the needs of suspected and probable COVID patients from the city’s barangays and the whole Kalinga province.

Further, there were also some netizens who posed the question on what is the provincial government doing to help in effectively and efficiently addressing the needs of COVID cases, especially that there is a continuous surge in the number of cases in the province over the past several weeks.

Netizens also opined that the city and the province needs proactive and dynamic leaders such as Mayor Estrañero who has the political will to forego previously identified priority development projects of the city just to ensure that there will be sufficient health facilities that will cater to the protection of the health of the people from the serious negative impact of the ongoing pandemic.

Moreover, they pointed out that the model that had been started by Tabuk City officials in prioritizing the health and safety of the people should serve as an eye opener for other leaders inside and outside the province to reflect on their shortcomings and try to improve the same in the future to make their constituents feel that they are safe in their communities despite the ongoing surge in COVID cases. By HENT