PTRI MEDICAL TEXTILE TESTING CENTER SUPPORTS LOCAL PPE MANUFACTURERS
By: Richelle Jem P. Jobog
Technology Transfer, Information and Promotions Staff
The Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), the textile research arm of the DOST, has inaugurated the PTRI Medical Textile Testing Center (PMTTC), the first and only medical textile testing center in the country.
With the theme, “Instilling Trust Amidst Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Through the PTRI Medical Textile Testing Center”, a hybrid event was held on June 24, 2022, physically in Bicutan, Taguig City, and virtually via Zoom and Facebook Live. Together with the Chemical Testing Laboratory and the Physical Testing Laboratory, the Microbiological Testing Laboratory was unveiled as the newest testing laboratory of the Institute.
Microbiological Testing Laboratory
Chemical Testing Laboratory
Physical Testing Laboratory
DOST-PTRI Director Celia B. Elumba welcomed the guests and led the ceremonial ribbon cutting and facility tour. She was joined by DOST Assistant Secretary for International Cooperation Dr. Leah Buendia, Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB) Director James E. Empeño, DOST-PCIEERD Deputy Executive Director Engr. Niñaliza H. Escorial, DOST-PTRI Testing Services Division OIC Engr. Daniel Leon J. Lavin, and PMTTC Project Leader Donna A. Uldo.
DOST-PTRI Director Elumba’s Welcome Remarks
PMTTC’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
The Center was soft-launched in December 2021, featuring various tests such as the Synthetic Blood Penetration Test for Face Masks and Protective Clothing, Differential Pressure Test, Hydrostatic Pressure Test, Impact Penetration Test, Water Repellency Test, and Respirator Fit Test.
This year, the Center inaugurates its new facilities and equipment for the conduct of new tests namely the Bacterial Filtration Efficiency Test, Microbial Bioburden Test, Fiber Identification, Thermal and Water Vapor Test, Respirator Resistance Test, Flex Lint Test, Bursting Strength Test, Puncture Resistance Test, and other auxiliary equipment needed in the laboratory.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, local manufacturers had to send out samples of personal protective equipment (PPE) for testing to international laboratories in the United States, India, Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, UK, and China, in the absence of testing laboratory in the country that could conduct tests for medical textiles including face masks and medical gowns. Based on the consolidated report in 2020 from the Department of Industry - Competitiveness and Innovation Group (DTI-CIG) that was derived from data from the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Board of Investments (BOI), Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), and the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP), the supply from local production and importation accounts only for 25-30% of the demand.
While the urgent demand for PPEs for medical frontliners is increasing, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) proposed to establish a medical textile testing center that would fill the gap in rapid and affordable testing of textiles used in the healthcare and hygiene sector, with recommendations from the following agencies: Department of Health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Industry - Competitiveness and Innovation Group (DTI-CIG), Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB), and Philippine Board of Investments (BOI).
Ms. Uldo discussed the offerings of the newest facility and testing services emphasizing, “what we offer here is a more accessible facility since it is already here in our country. Shorter turnaround time, because we do not have to send the samples abroad to have them tested. More affordable testing fees because it is a local facility. It is a support for the industry and regulatory activities of our country. It encourages local manufacturing since we already have the tests available here. It will be easier for our manufacturing sector to have their products tested. And also, supports the research and development initiatives of the academe and private sectors”.
Project Leader Donna Uldo’s Overview of the PMTTC
One of the PMTTC’s partners, Chief Executive Officer Engr. Stanley Siahetiong of Fivecent Global Corporation, shared that the most exciting part of the PMTTC’s inauguration for private sectors like them is they will be able to get faster feedback results of tests.
The National Training Center for Biosafety and Biosecurity (NTCBB) Director Dr. Raul V. Destura added, "The PTRI's commitment to establishing a world-class testing center for local textile products inspires us to continuously support our local industries towards the goal of producing safe and useable medical-grade personal protective equipment".
Message of Support from Fivecent Global Corporation Chief Executive Officer Engr. Stanley Siahetiong and NTCBB Director Dr. Raul V. Destura
According to the Food and Drug Administration Center for Device Regulation Radiation Health and Research (FDA-CDRRHR) Director Ma. Cecilia C. Matienzo, the establishment of the PMTTC and the PTRI Microbiological Testing Laboratory will help the FDA in all its post-market surveillance activities to ensure the quality and safety of different medical devices available in the market.
Message of Support from FDA-CDRRHR Director Ma. Cecilia C. Matienzo
Through the PMTTC, the burden of the local manufacturers, traders, consumers, and the government as a procuring entity, on additional fees for testing and shipment and longer lead times would be removed. Aside from addressing the current national situation, this establishment would also prepare us for similar healthcare emergencies by boosting the technical capabilities of the health sector and supporting us in the development and innovation efforts to reach the demands for personal protective clothing in the country.
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. De la Peña, Ph.D. delivers his Keynote Message
VIPs and Guests with the PMTTC Project Staff
In conclusion, PMTTC made testing of our local medical textile products affordable, quick, and convenient for the local manufacturers.