The government’s fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) got a boost through the PHP5.6-billion donation by Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings for the distribution of University of the Philippines-developed COVID-19 detection kits.
The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits donation was made through the Metrobank Foundation Inc. (MBFI) with the help of private research and development company Manila HealthTek Inc.
These were extended to Maria Reyna-Xavier University Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City and the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC).
In a briefing after the virtual ceremonial signing of the deed of donation Thursday, MBFI president Aniceto Sobrepena cited the contribution of local experts in the development and production of the test kits.
Sobrepena said Metrobank has been active in supporting several initiatives to fight the pandemic.
The donation is part of the over PHP220 million contributed by Metrobank and GT Capital Holdings Group to efforts against Covid-19, he said.
He said the company is privileged to be part of the development of the first locally produced Covid-19 testing kits.
“We commend and admire the works of our local experts led by (HealthTek CEO) Dr. (Raul) Destura and his team, together with the UP-NIH in the development, testing and production of these kits,” he added.
Meanwhile, Destura said the test kit is a “big help” to the government increase its testing capacity.
“Every help, in terms of testing capacity and access, will be an added support to the government’s effort because the war against the coronavirus 19 is not just a war between one sector of society,” he said.
This fight, he added, is a collective effort of private and government institutions, foundations and every individual.
“Any add-on that will support the current initiative to help in a much greater sphere of controlling coronavirus testing, in so far as providing more access to RT-PCR testing in the country is needed. The magnitude of the problem is so big that’s why, every sector in society needs to put their contribution,” Destura said.
UP-NIH executive director and 2019 MBFI Outstanding Filipino Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz said UP-NIH, being one of the first laboratories that responded to the fight against the virus, has experienced challenges such as on the supply chain.
She said most of the test kits currently used in the country to date are imported.
“Having a local kit developed here actually will make a lot of difference because we do not need to worry about the supply chain anymore because it can be readily accessed by any lab,” she added.
Cutiongco-de la Paz said the cost of UP-NIH RT-PCR is also cheaper than those bought overseas.
“In many accounts, the presence of this donation by GT Foundation to different laboratories will really help accelerate and assist the government to test, trace and treat,” she added. (PNA)