The Ayala Group, led by its healthcare unit, Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health), will build 4 BSL-2 laboratories and help capacitate 3 existing laboratories in Makati, Cebu, and Davao, for an additional capacity of 5,500 confirmatory RT-PCR tests per day for the country. This is part of the group’s contribution to the Department of Health and the Inter-agency Task Force’s Project T3 (Test, Trace, Treat), that aims to expand the national confirmatory testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by June.
“At the Ayala Group, we are big believers in testing and are one with the government in their efforts to expand our country’s capacity. By constructing new laboratories and expanding capacity for existing ones, we will increase access to confirmatory RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 in many critical areas,” Ayala Corporation President and COO Fernando Zobel de Ayala said.
In the past week, the AC Health group, led by Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, welcomed Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., Chief Implementer, and Sec. Vince Dizon, Deputy Chief Implementer of the IATF’s National Action Plan Against COVID-19, to the laboratories at the Tropical Disease Foundation and Qualimed Sta. Rosa for a tour of the facilities that the Ayala Group has upgraded and built.
“These additional testing laboratories will provide a major boost to the country’s health system, particularly in scaling up our capacity to conduct targeted COVID-19 testing, as we gradually open up our economy,” Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said.
“The DOH and the IATF are grateful to see our private sector partners, such as the Ayala Group, quickly and actively step up to this challenge and contribute to expanding testing capacity in the country. These are important wins for all of us, and we look forward to our continued partnership as we face the long-road ahead in the battle against COVID-19,” Sec. Vince Dizon added.
AC Health partnered with the Qualimed Health Network, led by its President and CEO, Dr. Edwin Mercado, to build 4 modular-type BSL-2 laboratories that will be located in their hospitals at Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Tanauan, Batangas, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, and Iloilo City, Iloilo. This innovative and efficient modular set-up, designed and built by Makati Development Corporation (MDC), will accelerate construction timelines for other laboratories.
Currently, the laboratory in Qualimed Sta. Rosa is on Level 3 of the DOH-RITM’s accreditation process and aims to be accredited by June 8. AC Health has been working closely with the Department of Health to ensure timely accreditation, and the rest of the laboratories of the Qualimed network target to be accredited and operational by end-June.
The modular BSL-2 laboratories, which follow the recommended design by the DOH, RITM, and WHO, are equipped with fully-automated RNA extraction and RT-PCR systems and can process about 1,000 confirmatory RT-PCR tests per day. The laboratory will be supervised by 2 Board-certified pathologists with training in molecular diagnostics.
AC Health and the Bloomberry Cultural Foundation Inc. (BCFI) have also partnered with the Tropical Disease Foundation (TDF) to establish TDF’s capability to conduct confirmatory RT-PCR tests for COVID-19. TDF is an existing Biosafety Level 2+ lab, and a specialty laboratory in tuberculosis research. AC Health and BCFI provided the facility with RT-PCR machines and equipment such as PCR and RNA extraction kits, biological safety cabinets, and a laboratory-grade refrigerator, among others.
On May 28, TDF was officially accredited by the DOH and can now process about 200 confirmatory RTPCR tests per day.
In the Visayas region, AC Health has set out to partner with the University of Cebu Medical Center in Mandaue City, one of the leading private hospitals in Cebu, to expand their capacity by 250 tests per day. In the Mindanao region, AC Health and the Ayala Foundation will donate RT-PCR machines to the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City to increase their capacity by 1,000 confirmatory RT-PCR tests daily.
Apart from the Ayala Group, this network of laboratories has been made possible through the generous donation of a consortium of private sector companies.
“Increasing the country’s confirmatory testing capacity is not an easy feat, but AC Health, together with all of our partners, remain committed to fill these gaps in our healthcare system. I would like to thank all of our partners in both the public and private sector who continue to work towards the same goal of fighting COVID-19 by improving the testing capabilities of the entire country,” AC Health President and CEO Paolo Borromeo added.