November 30, 2023

DOH rolls-out 2nd batch of biosafety training for health workers of North Luzon

By Glen Ramos

DOH health personnel were taught the proper donning and doffing of protective PPEs during the second batch of “Training on the Fundamentals of Biosafety, Biosecurity and Respirator Fit Testing” held in the province of Pangasinan from October 2-6, 2023.

THE Department of Health (DOH) in collaboration with the Biorisk Management Office (BMO) of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) conducted the second batch of “Training on the Fundamentals of Biosafety, Biosecurity and Respirator Fit Testing” for health personnel of various regional offices of Luzon including Ilocos, MIMAROPA, CALABARZON, Bicol, and NCR held in the province of Pangasinan from October 2-6, 2023..

Biosecurity is the process used to ensure ensuring biological agents are properly safeguarded against theft, loss, diversion, unauthorized access, or use/release while biosafety is the process that ensures that operations involving infectious agents are conducted in a safe, secure and reliable manner. 

Respiratory fit testing evaluates the seal between a respirator and the face, identifying gaps or leaks that may put workers at risk and also verifying that the make or model of N95 respirator properly fits the user. 

A total of 66 identified health personnel composed of medical technologists, doctors, and nurses completed the five-day training which included fundamentals of biosafety, biorisk management, donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE), biorisk mitigation control, transport of infectious substances, and accident and incident response in laboratories. 

“As the country progresses from the COVID-19 public health experience, DOH National Laboratory Response Network Unit (NLRNU) endeavors to establish a Laboratory Response Network (LRN) that will provide efficient, effective, and continuous operations to detect diseases of public health importance such as COVID-19,” Undersecretary Nestor F. Santiago stated in his message during the opening of the five-day training. 

“Biosafety and biosecurity measures serve as the foundation for regional laboratory teams to offer more complete oversight and technical support to their respective networks to ensure that their COVID-19 laboratories can safely continue operations as we also aim to increase the number of qualified personnel capable of conducting respirator fit testing.” 

“We aim to achieve tangible outcomes that will contribute significantly to the realization of our strategic interventions under the “Proteksyon sa Anumang Pandemya”in the 8-point Action Agenda and strengthen the implementation of Universal Health Care, with the ultimate goal of attaining a “Healthy Pilipinas kung saan ang Bawat Buhay ay Mahalaga,” Santiago emphasized. 

Ilocos is the first region in North Luzon to establish its own laboratory response network to detect and respond to emerging diseases. Among the hospitals that are included in the network are the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center in San Fernando City, La Union; Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City, Ilocos Norte; and Ilocos Sur Medical Center in Candon City, Ilocos Sur. 

DOH – Ilocos Regional Director Paula Paz M. Sydiongco said that the region has been providing a standard training program for laboratory personnel in collaboration with RITM to help bridge the gap in the number of adequately trained personnel. 

“It is important that we recognize the significance of adopting strict measures to protect human health, the environment and global security,” she emphasized. 

The “Training on the Fundamentals of Biosafety, Biosecurity and Respirator Fit Testing for COVID-19” was organized and facilitated by DOH – Ilocos Regional Laboratory Network Unit in coordination with the RITM and NLRNU. 

Mr. Mauro A. Marzan, who heads the Ilocos Regional Laboratory Unit, stressed that the activity will also address the specific competencies based on the DOH Competency Map for regional offices including advocating for public health, data recording and reporting, implementing health policies and regulations, occupational safety and health knowledge and scientific knowledge for health and medical staff.

The first batch of training on the fundamentals of biosafety and biosecurity, and respiratory fit testing was conducted on September 17-23, 2023, in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.