City Government of Marikina
30 April 2020 – present
Management for Productivity, Quality and Agility, and Perspectives on Productivity, Governance, and Development
The Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory is the first molecular laboratory in the country to be owned by a local government unit (LGU), and it is one of the first LGU-initiated COVID-19 testing facilities to be accredited by the Department of Health (DOH). The facility, which introduces efficient mass testing and prioritized sampling based on the Marikina LGU’s “link map,” can release COVID-19 test results within 24 hours.
Background and Problem
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the country’s primary testing facility was the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City. However, given the steady rise of cases at the time, the RITM was quickly overwhelmed with the number of tests that had to be conducted. This issue cascaded to individual LGUs that then struggled to make decisions and implement policies to address the pandemic due to the slow turnaround on test results, which could take around one to two weeks of processing time.
Solution and Impact
The Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory was established by Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro as a means of addressing the necessity of having an independent facility to ensure efficient testing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 160-square-meter laboratory, located along Bayan-Bayanan Avenue in Barangay Concepcion Uno, took the LGU fourteen days to convert into a COVID-19 testing facility.
On 30 April 2020, the Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory was certified by the RITM and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and issued a license to operate by the DOH. It boasts a complete facility including specimen receiving, sample preparation, reagent preparation, PCR room, and competent medical technologists, data encoders, maintenance and sanitation staff, and other essential staff.
Initially, the laboratory could only accommodate an average of 500 RT-PCR tests daily but has since reached daily averages of 1,000 or more. Results are encoded and distributed within 24 hours for positive cases and within 48 hours for negative cases. To further bolster the city’s efforts to increase efficiency in COVID-19 testing, other testing facilities were also established which could accommodate walk-in, drive-thru, and home swabbing modalities.
Efficient testing has also improved the LGU’s capacity for contact tracing. Positive test results are sent to contact tracers made up of personnel from the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and the Philippine National Police (PNP). To prevent the further spread of infection, these positive cases are assessed and referred to hospitals depending on the severity of the symptoms. Test results are also used to identify the infection rates in specific high-risk places, providing critical information that may be used as a basis for lockdowns.
The facility has also helped the LGU monitor individuals working in high-exposure situations or providing essential services. Rapid test screening was conducted for city employees, barangay employees, tricycle and pedicab drivers, shoemakers, factory workers, and market vendors, allowing them to return to work.
As of 23 November 2021, the laboratory has tested 110,892 samples from 107,636 individuals, identifying 17,274 positive cases.
Since the recording of its first COVID-19 case, Marikina City has shifted its programs to adapt to life after the pandemic. The LGU has expressed plans to enhance the Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, adding more RNA Extraction and PCR machines which will further increase the facility’s testing capacity. They are also looking into augmenting the facility’s manpower complement in order to have 24/7 processing without overworking the current laboratory staff.
“It is okay. It is good. It is one of the best laboratories I’ve seen. The construction is good. The layout is organized, and the equipment is compliant with the standards. The furnishing is tastefully executed.” – Dr. Francisco Duque III, Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH)
Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory Building (Source: Marikina City LGU)
Certifications and License to Operate from RITM, DOH, and PhilHealth for the Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory Building (Source: Marikina City LGU)
Facilities in the Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (Source: Marikina City LGU)
Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC). (2021, November 23). COVID-19 Philippine situationer – Issue no. 573. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from https://app.adpc.net/resources/covid-19-philippine-situationer-issue-no-573/.
Caliwan, C. (2020, April 17). Marikina COVID-19 test center compliant with DOH standards: Duque. Philippine News Agency. Retrieved from https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1100226
Casilao, J.L. (2020, May 1). Marikina COVID-19 lab results released in 24 hours. GMA News Online. Retrieved from https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/metro/736481/marikina-covid-19-lab-results-released-in-24-hours/story/
Cepeda, M. (2020, July 9). ‘Common sense’ and speed shield Marikina City from the coronavirus. Rappler. Retrieved from https://rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/common-sense-speed-shield-marikina-from-coronavirus
Local Government Unit of Marikina (n.d.). Marikina City COVID-19 Testing.
Marquez, C. (2020, April 30). Breaking: DOH finally green lights Marikina City’s COVID-19 testing center. Inquirer.net. Retrieved from https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1267497/doh-finally-green-lights-marikina-citys-covid-19-testing-center