Ayala group to invest more in COVID-19 fight

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THE AYALA GROUP, led by healthcare unit Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc., has committed to further increase its efforts to support the government in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In a statement, Wednesday, the group said it had made the commitment in a meeting with officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

On July 25, AC Health offered a tour of Qualimed Sta. Rosa hospital and a discussion of Ayala’s COVID-related initiatives and collaboration efforts with the government.

The meeting was led by brothers Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Fernando Zobel de Ayala, who welcomed government officials, including Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana and IATF Chief Implementer Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr.

“Being one of the first private institutions to respond to COVID-19, the Ayala group continuously works with the IATF and the government in providing testing and treatment modalities for patients all over the country. Mabuhay po kayo!,” the Ayala group quoted Mr. Duque as saying.

As of June 30, the Ayala group and AC Health have provided support to the government and the public, with over P9 billion allocated for COVID-19 initiatives.

“We are very thankful to the Ayala group for heeding the call for greater collaboration between the government and private sector, and more importantly, for demonstrating the indomitable Bayanihan spirit of the Filipino people. This partnership between government and private sector is crucial in winning the battle against COVID-19, and making the successful transition to the ‘new normal,’” Mr. Galvez was quoted as saying.

Among the Ayala group’s initiatives were the construction and upgrade of treatment and quarantine facilities such as the World Trade Center “We Heal As One” facility, the Philippine Red Cross testing lab, and seven reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) laboratories across the country.

Swabbing booths for the government’s four mega-swabbing centers and NAIA terminals were also provided. Monetary and in-kind donations were allocated for testing kits, RPT machines and personal protective equipment (PPEs), among others.

The Ayala group said it renews its commitment to support the Department of Health and IATF to address local healthcare needs during the pandemic.

“In the next few weeks, we will continue to ramp up our testing capacities, expand our treatment and isolation facilities, and roll out various innovations, including a lower-cost non-invasive ventilator, and an online healthcare platform,” Fernando Zobel de Ayala, chairman of the board of AC Health, said.

Throughout the crisis, AC Health has maintained operations of its FamilyDOC primary care clinics, Healthway multi-specialty clinics, and Generika drugstores, providing healthcare and medicine to patients.

It has also led the conversion of Qualimed Sta. Rosa into a COVID-19 referral hospital, and has capacitated four accredited COVID-19 laboratories located at the Tropical Disease Foundation (TDF) and Qualimed hospitals in Sta. Rosa, Laguna; San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan; and Iloilo City.

Testing equipment were also donated to the University of Cebu Medical Center and Southern Philippines Medical Center.

To further support the government, AC Health plans to double the capacity of TDF from 200 daily tests processed to 400 by purchasing additional equipment and increasing manpower.

In addition, the Daniel Mercado Medical Center in Batangas, a member of the Qualimed Health Network, was also accredited as a COVID-19 laboratory for an additional 1,000 tests per day.

The Ayala group said with these advances, it will provide a total daily testing capacity of 5,650 tests per day, in support of the government’s T3 (test, trace, treat) program.

In partnership with Qualimed Sta. Rosa, led by Dr. Edwin Mercado, AC Health is looking to expand the hospital’s isolation and quarantine facilities, as cases continue to rise in the Laguna area.

Qualimed Sta. Rosa has been able to screen nearly 3,000 suspect cases and has admitted over 100 confirmed cases since the beginning of March.

The Ayala group, through its subsidiaries, has planned additional investments in innovative COVID-related programs to help improve the country’s supply of ventilators and to promote teleconsultation.

“We remain committed to protecting our fellow Filipinos and will continue to invest in much-needed testing and treatment facilities for our communities, and look for even more innovative ways to help. This is a tremendous challenge but we are one with the government in fighting this virus.,” AC Health President and CEO Paolo Borromeo said.