- Three Filipino engineers invented the country’s first-ever swab mobile unit
- It was recently launched in Bacolod City
- The project’s lead engineer said it was an idea he got from his past experiences as a bio-medical engineer working in the middle of outbreaks
A group of Filipino engineers, led by a returning local bio-medical engineer, created the Philippines’ first-ever bio-safe Swab Mobile sampling unit for COVID-19 testing which was recently rolled out in Bacolod City.
With a first-hand experience on past outbreaks like SARS and H1N1, Engr. Rane Joseph Saril, a mechanical and bio-medical engineer with 20 years of experience in creating bio-safe labs and facilities in Asia and the Pacific, thought that it could be a good idea to apply his observations during those previous health crisis.
He shared that they used a mobile unit during the SARS outbreak to help protect health workers from being exposed during sampling. And it could be useful to duplicate it here in the Philippines.
By coincidence, Saril and Loren Kara Leonardia, daughter of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, were introduced to each other in April. Then the project to create a swab mobile unit materialized.
“With all the experience I’ve had aboard for so many years, it’s time to come home and put it to use here. I feel lucky to have the chance to help,” Saril said when asked why he decided to take the project.
Saril, his son Engr. Pierce Allesandro Saril, and Engr. Rommel Carisma worked on the project and on May 7, it was finally turned over to the city government.
It was disclosed that around P1 million was spent to complete the project. It was funded by the Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BFCCCI), the Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Junior Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Bacolod Chamber Volunteer Fire Brigade.
“This will help protect health workers from being exposed unnecessarily during specimen extraction. Instead of letting the patient go to the hospital for a swab test the CHO staff will go to the area of the patients,” Mayor Evelio Leonardia said in a press release.
According to Saril, when a patient goes to a hospital for testing they are exposed to up to nine health workers; putting the medical staff’s health at risk.
With this unit, they can limit the exposure to only two health workers who would be further protected by the biosecurity measures in place within the van.
Saril said the mobile lab’s physical aspect may be easily replicated but emphasized that it is the bio-safety measure that is the most important part in the making. A series of testings and a final validation based on industry standards must be done before a unit is deemed safe for use, he added.
One more unit of swab mobile is also under way and is expected to be available next week.