Dear colleagues at UPMASA,  

Thank you for your interest in developments at the College of Medicine and the Philippine General Hospital. As you have been briefed, UP Manila has been very busy on many fronts:

  1. Designation of PGH as the COVID Referral Center
  2. Development of the local COVID testing kit 
  3. Conduct of the  field validation studies of the local COVID kit by NIH and the Philippine Genome Center
  4. Field implementation studies of the local kit in 5 sites (to be completed in the next 2-3 weeks)
  5. Contribution of 2500 tests a day as part of the national target of 10 000 tests a day

How?  5.1 upgrade or NIH as COVID testing center to run1300 tests a day (NIH currently runs 250 tests a day but with automation of RNA extraction, it can go up to 1300 tests a day.  5.2 completion of accreditation of PGH as COVID testing center; once accredited, it can run a max of 1500 tests a day

  1. Engagement of faculty in researches

As of my inventory today of COVID related projects, there are 16 at various stages (technical review, awaiting PCHRD decision, funding release.)  Today, I signed a contract of 24M for one project with funds about to be transferred to UPM so that the researcher can start immediately.

Of interest to the group is the ventilator project of Dr. Bunds Balgos,  which received a substantial grant from DOST. This week, 33M was awarded to Dr. Balgos. Three prototypes are being completed in 45-60 days with validation using a human lung simulator ASL 5000. Afterwhich, 30 ventilators are in the pipeline prior to mass production.  Of all the ventilator projects, this is probably the most mature.  The projects have a wide range. I mention some of the projects at the UP Manila newsletter that I am attaching to this email.

I just received from  VC for Research Armand Crisostomo, MD ’81 a list of another 20 research concepts that are being written by our faculty.

With regard to vaccine development, DOST is taking the lead in preparing the report to President Duterte.  DOST-PCHRD has a Vaccine Research Group. DOH and DOST are gathering all possible key players to a meeting to discuss and complete the report for the President. There are talks of collaboration with Taiwan. Vaccine development is very challenging. Our faculty usually participates in the field implementation trials. The planned early engagement with Taiwan is promising.

  1. The National Telehealth Center of NIH will be hosting a webinar series for clinicians starting this Friday.  The registration link:

The objective is to be able to disseminate lessons learned and best practices from the country’s best experts working on helping address the COVID-19 pandemic. The first topic is COVID pneumonia. 

  1. The other major development is the setting up of the UP-PGH COVID-19 Bayanihan Na! Operations Center. The Center was launched last  March 30. It has a hotline no 155-200 with 20 lines. The Center entertains patient queries and donations. The hotline is manned by volunteers who have phone scripts for the commonly encountered COVID related questions. When a call agent hits a wall, remote consultants come on board to assist the concern of a patient.  We have 300 volunteers who man the call center – students, faculty, and staff of UP Manila.

For cash donations, our partner is the PGH Medical Foundation.

For donations in kind, the drop off center is at Alveor Hall. They get sorted before being transferred to PGH.

Donations in kind range from masks, to PPE to ventilators, etc.

UP Manila offices remain open on a skeletal workforce.  Meetings are online and they run all day. It has been very challenging for everybody in UP Manila, esp to PGH.

We are fortunate to have a community ready to serve.

Thank you for your support.

To inform the community of developments, we started a newsletter this week. Because of the big response to the call for articles,  Information Director Pia Malanyaon, MD ’81 decided to run a weekly e-newsletter.  Enjoy the attached newsletter.

Stay safe my dear friends.

My regards to all.

Carmencity “Menchit” Padilla, MD  ‘81