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UNFPA, BARMM Ministry of Health increase CRMC’s COVID-19 testing capacity

September 25, 2020


The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao turned over today, 25 September 2020, Automated Nucleic Acid Extraction Machine to Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC).

The extraction machine will facilitate more efficient laboratory processing of swab samples collected. Currently, CRMC processes 84 samples daily. With this machine up to 400 samples can be processed every day, five times more than the present capacity.




CRMC has recently passed the stage 4 proficiency testing as RT-PCR laboratory and has been given license to operate as Conventional RT-PCR COVID-19 Testing Laboratory. “We are grateful for this support of UNFPA and BARMM MOH because this will significantly increase our testing capacity. With this machine, we can now have an automated processing of swab samples,” said Dr. Helen Yambao, Medical Center Chief II of Cotabato Regional and Medical Center. “Testing is an essential intervention to win this fight against COVID-19. Early detection of cases translates to timely management of the disease and timely isolation of cases to prevent further spread of virus,” she added.




COVID-19 continues to infect the Bangsamoro people particularly the vulnerable women and young people. The BARMM Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on COVID-19 reported a total of 1,000 cases as of 24 September 2020. Of the total cases, 733 have recovered, 38 have died, and 229 remain active cases. Furthermore, the IATF reported on the same date 27 are new cases, 40% are women and 25% are young people.




“Women and young people in BARMM are not spared from this dreaded virus. Hence, it critical to support the enabling environment that will ensure the health and safety of the vulnerable sectors. We are optimistic that this partnership with the Bangsamoro Government and the CRMC could bring pragmatic results especially to the health of women and young people,” said Rena Dona, UNFPA Assistant Representative.




“The Bangsamoro Government expresses its deep appreciation for the partnership with CRMC and UNFPA in responding to COVID-19 through this increased COVID-19 testing capacity and in protecting and saving the lives of the Bangsamoro people especially the vulnerable women and young people,” stated BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim.




The CRMC molecular laboratory staff, headed by Dr. Sherjan Kalim, will undergo an on-site training on the use of the new Automated Nucleic Acid Extraction Machine on 29 September 2020.




Medical Center Chief's Corner

Ishmael R. Dimaren, MD, MHA, FPCS, FPSGS, FPSCRS

Ishmael R. Dimaren, MD, MHA, FPCS, FPSGS, FPSCRS
Medical Center Chief II

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