DOH plans AH1N1 testing lab in Davao

Jun. 17, 2009

DAVAO CITY — The Department of Health (DOH) is planning to put up a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratory that can detect A H1N1 influenza in swab samples taken from suspected cases.

Dr. Leopoldo Vega, chief of the Davao Medical Center (DMC), said the DOH is planning to build two WHO-accredited PCR laboratories, one in the Vicente Sotto Medical Center in Cebu City for the Visayas island and and another in DMC for Mindanao.

Vega said that the current suspected cases have had their swabs collected, sealed and carried by courier to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila for tests. The RITM is the only AH1N1 testing center in the country accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Aside from the equipment, personnel will be trained by the DOH to man the laboratory, which, according to Vega, will take some time.

Meanwhile, DMC is trying to explore arrangements with the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City and private hospitals in the city to provide space where suspected cases of A H1N1 virus can be observed. At the moment, the four-bed isolation ward in DMC is in full capacity.

The recent cases are; a 31-year old Filipino seaman who recently came from Singapore and Thailand; a 55-year old Dutch tourist; a 22-year old Filipino missionary from South Korea; and a 21 year old Filipina who visited Thailand.

Vega said that in case there is another patient that needs to be isolated, they can arrange with the DRH in Tagum City, which has a five-bed isolation ward. Also being explored is an arrangement with the private hospitals to have isolation centers where patients can be observed. The swabbing for samples, however, will still be done by trained DMC personnel. (PIA XI)

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