Transfer of RT-PCR units from DOST-Food and Nutrition Research Institute to RITM
Transfer of RT-PCR units from MSI Dr. Conaco Team and PCHRD to San Lazaro
To increase the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) machines, a crucial technology for detecting viral infections, are being lent and distributed to various testing laboratories as part of the Department of Science and Technology's initiatives to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the Department of Health’s request to borrow qRT-PCRs, DOST, its attached agencies and several Universities with DOST-funded projects have already deployed units that matched specific requirements for COVID-19 testing to the following laboratory facilities: Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Genome Center, Davao Regional Medical Center, and Western Visayas Medical Center.
Transfer of RT-PCR units from Dr. Sevilla's team at University of Sto. Tomas to Baguio General Hospital aided by Dr. Dharmatov Albano. DOH-CAR and Lifeline Diagnostics Supplies Inc. for the dismantling and re-installation at BGHMC.
Transfer of RT-PCR units from DOST-Industry Technology Development Institute to RITM
Additional units of qRT-PCRs were lent and transferred to the following laboratories: Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, and San Lazaro Hospital.
The said qRT-PCRs are originally being used for research and development projects of DOST-attached agencies and some Universities. The machines are lent by the Department through the cooperation of different proponents and institutions supported by DOST, with assistance from its Research and Development Councils and select regional offices.
“By using the resources we currently have, we are adding value to the laboratories’ existing operations. We at the science community will always find means to assist our healthcare workers with necessary tools in this battle with the virus,” said Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).
The qRT-PCR machine, which is currently the most widely used method for detecting coronavirus, is essential as it amplifies the viral RNA from swab samples taken from suspected patients.
The distribution of qRT-PCRs is based upon the assessment and request from the DOH. The Department plans to focus future R&D initiatives on COVID-19 programs and pandemic information dissemination projects.
With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, a study from the University of the Philippines Manila predicts that the worst case scenario for the healthcare system is the surge of patients exceeding available healthcare resources to the extent that “critical care may have to be rationed.” This brings about issues on the standard of care provided to patients leading to ethical implications. To address this, a research team led by Mr. Peter Sy of the University of the Philippines Manila came out with the “Ethics Guidelines on COVID-19 Crisis-Level Hospital Care,” a document healthcare providers may adapt and adjust according to their institution’s needs during the pandemic.
Last April 13, 2020, the University of the Philippines Manila held an online conference which served as a venue for the project team and healthcare stakeholders to discuss the guidelines, how it can help the healthcare providers, and what improvements can be made to the document.
Dr. Belle Siasoco, a co-investigator of the project, cited five ethical elements considered in the creation of the guidelines, namely procedural fairness, urgency, duty to care, equity, and to minimize harm. The document aims to help healthcare providers answer the question, "How should decision-makers balance between saving as many lives as possible or relieving as much pain and suffering as possible, on the one hand, and, on the other, aiming for the best possible quality of life as well as as seeing through the cases of patients they have come to care for?”
The “Ethics Guidelines on COVID-19 Crisis-Level Hospital Care” contains the following sections: ● Principles- Elaborates the ethical elements in which the rest of the document is based from. ● Admission triage- Provides guidelines on patient admission and the type of care to be provided to the patient ● Communication of care- Focuses on ensuring communication of care to the patients’ families ● Therapeutic interventions- Provides guidelines on the use of available alternative therapeutic interventions for treatment ● ICU allocation- Provides guidelines on patient admission to the ICU and its processes ● Care for non-COVID-19 patients- Provides guidelines on providing care for non-COVID-19 patients ● Information management- Elaborates on the information healthcare providers may attain and discloses ● Research- Provides guidelines on conducting research in time of the pandemic ● Personnel rights and obligations- Provides guidelines on healthcare worker rights and obligations ● Working committees- Elaborates tasks of committees within hospitals and the establishment of the patient liaison committee ● Post mortem care- Provides guidelines on post-mortem care of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 case
Some features of the document include the establishment of the patient liaison committee and provision of alternatives such as palliative care to the patients. The patient liaison committee will be the authorized body to decide “on withholding or withdrawing ventilator support for any given case, based primarily on the criteria-based assessments of the attending physicians.” Once a patient cannot be provided ventilator support according to the criteria set by the committee, the patient may opt for palliative care. It was also pointed out that engagement with the family of the patient must also be a priority for crisis-level healthcare.
Today, April 20, the Manila Health Tek Lab, Inc. delivers the GENAMPLIFY™ Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) rRT-PCR test kit to the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH). After completing the validation studies, this is the manufacturer’s first batch of delivery, making UP-NIH the first health facility to officially use the Pinoy-made COVID-19 test kits under the Field Implementation funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). The Field Implementation covers 26,000 tests and the total project cost is P53.2M.
Manila Health Tek, Inc. CEO Dr. Raul Destura expressed gratitude to DOST-PCHRD for funding the production of the test kits and its delivery to the different health facilities in the country.
“As we heal as one in fighting this global pandemic, we thank DOST for its unwavering support in the production of these test kits. We hope that we can serve more Filipinos through this endeavor and help in saving more lives against the scourge of COVID-19,” Dr. Destura said.
Destura said the GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kit has advantage against its foreign counterparts as it is packaged completely with an RNA extraction device and viral transport medium that is not found in other testing kits.
Aside from the complete testing kit package, Dr. Destura guarantees provision of full technical support from their team. Dr. Destura assured that their assistance doesn’t stop in delivering the test kits, laboratory personnel will be provided training on how to conduct the tests using the GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kit. In fact, his team already conducted training with the laboratory personnel of Philippine General Hospital, The Medical City Ortigas, Makati Medical Center and University of San Agustin, Iloilo City in collaboration with Western Visayas Medical Center and PGC Iloilo.
Destura also emphasized that GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kit can be used in any RT-PCR machine as the codes used to read the sample is open source. The complete package of the locally-made test kits inclusive of VAT costs only Php 1,828.40, almost four times cheaper compared to other kits in the international market which price may exceed Php 8,000.
Currently, Manila HealthTek's production capacity is at 6000 to 8000 tests per day, but they target to increase its capacity to produce 16,000 tests by May 1. Several institutions have availed of the GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kit including: Philippine Genome Center, Bataan General Hospital, Araneta Foundation, Office of the Vice President, and the LGUs of Iloilo, Antipolo, and Pulilan.
"We at the UP Manila NIH are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support given by DOST and the PCHRD. This is a big step for our country to show that Filipinos can be self-sufficient like the other countries in addressing this pandemic." Dr Eva Cutiongco-de la Paz, NIH Executive Director
“Engaging in the research and development of biotechnology is one our country’s best investment in creating diagnostic tools,” says DOST Undersecretary for R&D Rowena Cristina L. Guevara. “Through R&D, we have the opportunity to enable our local health sector to be independent, efficient, and be given access to low-cost solutions in managing infectious diseases like COVID-19. I call on our officials and health administrators to support our Pinoy-made test kits.”
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. De la Pena congratulated the PCHRD and the Manila Health tek, Inc. spinoff for responding immediately to the pandemic and coming up with a valuable diagnostic kit.
“The long wait for local test kits is over. We are glad that our very own technology is ready for distribution. With the deployment of the test kits, UP-NIH will increase its capacity to run more tests per day, as each unit of the GENAMPLIFY™ COVID-19 test kit can run 25 tests at once and provide results within two hours,” he said
Written by Christine Jane Gonzalez & Ana Ciaren Itulid.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) is pleased to announce the call for capacity building proposals for the Advancing Health through Evidence-Assisted Decisions with Health Policy and Systems Research (AHEAD-HPSR) Program.
Interested institutions, organizations, and researchers are invited to submit a full proposal on the topic below:
Development of Online Learning and Development Interventions in
Support of Universal Health Care – Integration Sites (UHC-IS)
The integration of local health systems, as stipulated in the UHC Act, necessitates more evidence to guide its implementation and facilitate their successful execution. Local policymakers, decision-makers, and implementers need to be adequately capacitated with appropriate research competencies related to Operations Research (OR), Implementation Research (IR), Evaluative Research (ER), and other relevant health research methods and skills to effectively transform/facilitate the transformation of local health systems, specifically relates to the technical, financial, and managerial aspects of integration.
To develop the knowledge and competencies of local policymakers, decision-makers, and implementers on OR, IR, ER, and other relevant health research methods and skills; and
To develop and implement an online-based, student-focused learning and development intervention for local policymakers, decision-makers, and implementers
Scope of Work
Conduct a rapid learning and needs assessment of local policymakers, decision-makers, and implementers;
Develop training design that is student-focused;
Develop a training manual and at least six (6) modules each using online platform for the following (at the minimum):
Evaluative Research; and
Evidence Synthesis of health policy and systems research
Use existing DOH online platforms in developing, implementing, and evaluating the learning and development intervention;
Manage and implement of the online learning and development intervention; and
Coordinate overall design and implementation with HPDPB, HHRDB and PCHRD
Analysis and report on the learning needs assessment;
Learning designs (this includes instructional design, workshops, discussion fora, and short course tutorial thru online platform);
Training modules (at least 6 modules on OR, IR, ER and ES of HPSR);
Documentation of online training sessions including the evaluation of the activities, recommendations, issues and concerns encountered;
Progress, and financial reports;
Final technical report; and
Terminal audited financial report
Local Government and Health Officials and Staff in UHC-Integration Sites;
DOH-Centers for Health Development Staff (particularly Health Research and Development Unit Staff and other staff that are involved/interested in conducting/commissioning research for UHC-IS); and
DOH-Central Office Staff
Duration of Engagement
All activities and deliverables to be completed and/or submitted within the period of implementation of the 2018 AHEAD-HPSR.
Five Million Pesos only (Php 5,000,000), inclusive of 7.5% administrative costs and taxes
Letter of Intent;
Endorsement of agency head;
Project Proposal following the DOST form 3 (Non R&D Proposals);
Work plan Schedule following the DOST form B (Gantt Chart of Activities);
Proposed Line-Item Budget (LIB) following DOST form A;
Ethics Clearance from PHREB-accredited REC, if applicable;
Curriculum Vitae of lead proponent (Principal Investigator/Project Leader);
Duties and Responsibilities of each project personnel; and
Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) Balik Scientist Program (BSP) Awardee, Dr. Adrian Joseph Buensalido is one of the many inspiring doctors serving as a frontline worker in the country’s battle against COVID-19. As an infectious disease and internal medicine specialist, he shared how he and his team manages the fight against the pandemic.
“The risk of getting COVID-19 is there every single moment of the day because our PPEs are not fool-proof. One small mistake and you can contaminate yourself. The fear is there, but you don’t dwell on it. You use an ounce of fear as fuel to keep your actions precise to prevent any misstep or contamination.”
Dr. Buensalido revealed that teamwork is what improves their day to day operations. He disclosed that doctors who have different specialties have volunteered to help the infectious disease specialists, pulmonologists, and critical care specialists to ease the burden.
The Balik Scientist recalled that one of his memorable experiences inside the hospital is when they took over an entire infectious disease load of one hospital between him and another colleague. “We were just constantly working and fighting illness continuously from 7am to 10-11pm at night, sleeping then waking up to fight again. Fighting and not allowing defeat until the reinforcements came will forever be etched in my memory - a badge of honor,” He said.
Thankfully, Dr. Buensalido and his team was already able to send home several patients and continues to do so. He explained that the patients recovered because aside from being obedient, they consulted early in their illness. By doing this, his team was able to intervene early by giving them antiviral medicine, supplements, along with close monitoring.
“I really think coming early for diagnosis and treatment made a difference, especially since their ages made them at very high risk for serious COVID-19 complications.”
Despite each victory, Dr. Buensalido also acknowledges the deficiencies that hospitals face to fully deliver safe and efficient medical care to patients. He explained that the hospital’s most crucial needs involve a steady supply of PPEs for consistent healthcare worker protection to ensure continuous quality care.
Dr. Buensalido also believes that the mobilization of non-hospital institutions to diagnose and take care of non-serious cases will unburden the emergency rooms and intensive care units of the hospitals. Ultimately, he thinks that the availability of the drugs to treat COVID-19 and its complications will definitely improve outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality.
When asked about what drives him to keep serving the people, Dr. Buensalido answered, “I cannot find the words to call it right now, but the situation calls for all healthcare practitioners to step up or else COVID-19 will ravage our world with fear, disease and death. It is our time, and we will stand up to this bully of a disease.”
As of April 6, the country has lost seventeen doctors due to COVID-19. Despite this, Dr. Buensalido has this to say to his fellow frontliners, “We have the most important job right now. By coming to work and doing our jobs, we give people a chance to live and survive against this unseen enemy. Some of us may fall and some of us have already succumbed to COVID-19, but as long as we take our precautions, and we prevent the virus from making us sick, we will be able to help more patients, get more of them better, until eventually we beat COVID-19 once and for all.”