Friday, October 16, 2020

Tests for LGUs, offices with updated payment continue

THE PHILIPPINE  Red Cross (PRC) on Friday clarified that it would continue to provide coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) testing for local government units (LGUs) and government agencies that have pre-arranged schedules and are updated in their payments.  

“PRC molecular laboratories are open to test individuals with pre-arranged schedules, referrals of private companies and organizations with existing agreements with PRC and LGUs with laboratory testing agreements with PRC and who are updated in their payments,” the PRC said in an announcement on its Facebook page.

This came as the organization on Thursday said it would stop Covid-19 tests that are chargeable to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) until the insurer settles its debt worth over PHP930 million.

“This is a difficult decision for a humanitarian organization such as the PRC to make but it has to be made. The PRC does not have unlimited resources to replenish the testing kits for its laboratories unless PhilHealth, its major creditor, settles its lawful obligations to the PRC. The PRC needs the resources to procure test kits and reagents from China. Each of these orders require about USD6 million per order. The PRC cannot commit to these orders unless it has the finances to pay for the orders. This is what makes PhilHealth’s settlement of its outstanding obligations critical,” it added.

Meanwhile, individuals who want to get tested can book an appointment with PRC by calling their helpline 1158 or online via book.redcross1158.com with results available within 24 to 48 hours.

As of October 14, the PRC has already conducted 1,086,630 tests which are almost 30 percent of the test output of the entire country.

On Thursday, MalacaƱang assured that the swab testing of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would not be affected by PRC's decision.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the PRC’s decision would hamper the country’s testing efforts but noted that there are now more laboratories capable of testing Covid-19 samples besides the Department of Health - Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM).

Roque also apologized to the PRC for PhilHealth’s failure to settle its outstanding balance, saying its decision would be a “big loss” to the country’s testing capacity.

He also assured that he would raise the matter before PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran. (By Marita Moaje)