KAPATAGAN, LANAO DEL NORTE — To fast track the processing of swab tests, which are crucial in the early detection of COVID-19, the provincial government here on Wednesday has opened its own molecular laboratory that is capable of handling initial 90 tests per day.
Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo, who led the inauguration of the testing facility, acknowledged the guidance provided by the national government in limiting local transmissions and mitigating the impact of the pandemic.
“We are thankful to IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and DOH (Department of Health) for persistently finding ways to curtail, if not contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidelines on health protocols have definitely protected the welfare of the people,” Dimaporo said.
Testing is one of the key components of the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate strategy under the National Action Plan (NAP) against COVID-19’s Phase II.
“These guidelines and health protocols from the national government serve as our reference when establishing local health protocols and safety,” Dimaporo pointed out.
The Lanao del Norte Molecular Laboratory is the only LGU-funded COVID-19 testing facility in Northern Mindanao, and one of only 21 of its kind in the whole country.
Congressman Abdullah Dimaporo said all sectors in the province are working collectively to address the pandemic.
DOH Regional Director for Northern Mindanao, Dr. Adriano P. Suba-an acknowledged the impact of the molecular lab on Lanao del Norte’s COVID-19 response efforts, which will also benefit its neighboring cities and provinces.
“By putting up this laboratory, you have actually strengthened the Lanao del Norte, Iligan and Lanao del Sur health triangle,” Suba-an said.
“The DOH is standing proud beside you, for the efforts exerted by local government and health officials. Without each one of you, things could have been different,” he added.
As of September 28, Lanao del Norte has 136 active cases, 366 recoveries, and 4 deaths.
Leadership amid the pandemic
NAP against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. observed that one of the key factors in areas where COVID-19 cases were effectively contained is the leadership provided by local officials.
“Leadership is very vital. Kung ang leader ay may focus, strategic direction, nakikinig (sa mga tao), and is able to empower and inspire people, they will listen to you,” Galvez said.
“Nakikita po namin, (doon sa) maraming nag-spike na area, there is a great division within themselves. ‘Yung COVID-19 ginagawang pulitika for 2022, ‘yung isang leader, sinisiraan ‘yung isa— walang mangyayari kung ganun,” he added.
Aside from establishing its own COVID-19 molecular laboratory, Dr. Suba-an also recognized the province’s efforts in scaling up its treatment and isolation capacity despite the low utilization rate of its ICU hospital beds.
‘When we looked into the critical care utilization rate, ang Lanao del Norte, low risk po siya— it’s less than 30%. As of yesterday, the utilization of ICU beds and mechanical ventilators is zero,” Suba-an said.
“With the isolation, our target is one bed to 2,500 population. Low risk ang Lanao del Norte kasi mas marami kayong beds to population,” he added.
Meawhile, Galvez urged other local government units to learn from Lanao del Norte’s best practices as he called on them to unite in the fight against the disease.
“Ako po ay masayang-masaya dahil ang Lanao del Norte ay nagpupunyagi. During this time of pandemic, let us support each other. Importante na talagang walang maiiwan,” Galvez said.
The chief implementer also turned over 2,500 surgical masks, as well as N95 masks to the provincial government. He said the national government will be providing more Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the province.
Meanwhile, Governor Dimaporo thanked Galvez for the continued guidance and support the NTF has given to local government units, including Lanao del Norte, during this health crisis.
“On behalf of the people of Lanao del Norte, I am very grateful and honored for your presence this morning, and for joining us to celebrate this milestone. As one of the dedicated cabinet members of this administration, your presence inspires us to exert more effort in our fight against COVID-19,” Dimaporo said.