Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Covid-19 response started with the vision of PRC Chairman and CEO Sen. Dick Gordon, who saw testing as a way to “drain the swamp.”
The country had to rely heavily on the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) government-run organization that could muster up the resources to deliver 300 tests a day. Thus, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), knowing the PRC’s capabilities and capacity, approached the institution to see if they could take up the slack.
Sen. Dick Gordon, heeded the call to provide access to the Filipino people as he envisioned fighting the invisible enemy by testing as many people as quickly as possible. Therefore, identifying and isolating those who contacted COVID-19. From then on, PRC established its first molecular laboratory that could test 2,000 individuals per day.
To date, PRC has 14 molecular laboratories, positioned in key-strategic areas nationwide, capable of testing more than 48,000 tests per day.
But Chairman Gordon did not stop in finding more ways to beat this invisible enemy. PRC continues to search for a more affordable, faster, and non-invasive method of testing. The research led PRC to introduce the country’s first and only saliva RT-PCR test, which only costs PHP 2,000. The saliva test also uses reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), which according to the World Health Organization, is considered the gold standard for COVID-19 testing.
PRC, at that time, is offering the cheapest swab RT-PCR test priced at PHP 4,000, further lowering it to 3,800, lower than the PHP 4,500-PHP 5,000 price range set by the Department of Health and Department of Trade and Industry for RT-PCR testing for private laboratories.
To make it more affordable to the public, PRC lowers its testing fees for the second time, pricing it from PHP 3,800 to PHP 2,800 for swab RT-PCR and from PHP 2,000 – PHP 1,500 for saliva RT-PCR test.
More than testing, PRC also established different Isolation Facilities in UP, Ateneo, De La Salle College-Benilde, Makati Science Highschool, Adamson University, and Cagayan to cater to asymptomatic spreaders and prevent household transmission.
Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 last April 2021, PRC Chairman Gordon was alarmed by the news of people dying outside the hospital while waiting to be admitted. Without hesitation, Chairman Gordon immediately deployed a 100-bed capacity Emergency Field Hospital at the Lung Center of the Philippines to serve mild-moderate cases. This initiative was followed by deploying Medical tents at the National Kidney Transplant Institute and assisted 30 more hospitals nationwide. To date, PRC medical tents have catered to more than 34,810 individuals since the start of the pandemic.
PRC also assisted communities through various cash distributions nationwide, the deployment of Hot Meals on Wheels, and other activities to combat COVID-19.
PRC continues to be at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic through various initiatives by the humanitarian organization, together with our partner national societies, staff, volunteers, and through the leadership of Sen. Dick Gordon.