City Government of Valenzuela
11 April 2020 – present
Management for Productivity, Quality, and Agility, and Perspectives on Productivity, Governance, and Development
The City Government of Valenzuela increased their capacity for COVID-19 mass testing through a public-private partnership with The Medical City (TMC).
Background and Problem
Beyond just confirming to an individual whether their symptoms are actually COVID-19 or not, testing also provides important information that helps identify potential infection hotspots and simplify the process of contact tracing. Given the lack of national-level capacity for mass testing, it thus falls to individual local government units (LGUs) to provide reliable and sustainable testing for the virus within their territory.
Solution and Impact
On 11 April 2020, the City Government of Valenzuela signed a memorandum of understanding with The Medical City (TMC) to provide the first public-private partnership on the conduct of mass testing in Metro Manila. In this arrangement, the LGU procures and provides the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, while TMC and Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory process them and provide results in the shortest possible turnaround time. The mass testing is not only available for residents, but also for LGU workers, including firemen, police, health station workers, members of the City Health Office, penal officers, disaster risk reduction and management staff, staff of the emergency hospital, employees from the external services office, as well as members and employees of barangay councils.
The steps involved in the Valenzuela City’s mass testing initiative involve the three-step program of Test, Trace, and Isolate:
- Test: Trained medical technologists under the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU) go house-to-house to collect specimens from patients. Collected specimens are then transported to their partner laboratories for processing.
- Trace: All close contacts of identified confirmed cases shall observe quarantine procedures and will be closely monitored by CESU and the local police. These close contacts will also be tested for Covid-19 using PCR-based test kits.
- Isolate: Those who tested positive but asymptomatic will be brought to the city’s designated Central Isolation Units for confirmed Covid-19 patients. During their stay, all their needs will be taken care of including food and basic hygiene kits. Doctors and nurses will monitor them until they register two negative tests. Patients exhibiting severe symptoms are endorsed to Covid-19 tertiary hospitals for more urgent and specialized care.
Valenzuela City’s first molecular laboratory was launched in September 2020 with the capacity to process 800 samples per day. The LGU has also allocated a substantial budget for COVID-19 testing initiatives. Based on updates released in December 2020, the LGU has used PHP 70,266,420 for the procurement of PCR test kits, PHP 56,665,304 for the processing of said tests, and PHP 126,931,724 for other expenses related to organizing the localized targeted mass testing. Savings generated from budget items such as canceled events, unallocated training budgets, decreased utility expenses, and the discontinued hiring of personnel have instead been redirected towards sustaining the city’s mass testing endeavors.
In 2021, the LGU’s COVID-19 mass testing initiative was expanded to include information campaigns as the last step. As of 25 September 2021, these efforts have contributed to a total of 106,692 PCR test results.
The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between The Medical City and Valenzuela City Officials. (Source: Valenzuela City PIO)
A Valenzuela resident undergoes testing (Source: Valenzuela City PR)
As part of the Isolate step, if a person tests positive, they are relocated to one of these tents for observation and medical attention (Source: Valenzuela City PR)
Calalo, A. O. (2020, April 13). Valenzuela starts Covid-19 testing. The Manila Times. https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/04/13/news/top-stories/valenzuela-starts-covid-19-testing/713215/
Dimatulac, C. (2020, April 11). Valenzuela City begins COVID-19 targeted mass testing. CNN Philippines. https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2020/4/11/Valenzuela-City-COVID-19-targeted-mass-testing.html
Gavilan, J. (2020, December 11). ‘A chorus of funds’ sustains Valenzuela City’s COVID-19 mass testing. Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/chorus-funds-sustains-valenzuela-city-mass-testing-ways-lgus-manage-budget-covid-19-series-yearend-2020
Porciuncula, A. R. (2020, April 15). Valenzuela’s Targeted Mass Testing Results Out, Intensifies Campaign with New Lab Partner. Official Website of the City Government of Valenzuela. https://www.valenzuela.gov.ph/article/news/13405
Valenzuela City. (2021, September 25). Testing update: As of September 25, 2021, we have released a total of 106,692 RT-PCR test results through our localized targeted mass testing in Valenzuela City. pic.twitter.com/3jmoclwszr. Twitter. Retrieved January 6, 2022, from https://twitter.com/valenzuelacity/status/1441609122189692931