Three of Northern Mindanao’s leading universities are in the thick of the fight versus the COVID-19 pandemic through their campus laboratories.
Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (Xavier Ateneo) in Cagayan de Oro City, Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Bukidnon, and Mindanao State University (MSU) through College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at its main campus in Marawi City and the Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) in Iligan City, have mobilized their available resources to supply hospitals with urgently needed medical supplies like alcohol and disinfectant.
We continue our four-part series with the COVID-19 Response of Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon.
Higher up at the University Town, in Musuan, Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon, the Central Mindanao University (CMU) has been producing hand sanitizers, disinfectant solutions and PPEs like face masks and face shields for hospitals, government offices, parishes and checkpoints.
CMU is a research state university and is one of the oldest premier universities in southern Philippines.
Dr. Melania Enot, Director of NPRDC, disclosed that this is a collaborative effort of CMU’s faculty researchers and science laboratories to formulate an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the virus.
Enot said that the hand sanitizers are based on the recommended formulation of the World Health Organization (WHO) of 80% alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, double distilled water, and glycerol.
On the first wave of CMU Cares campaign, CMU distributed hand sanitizers to the cities of Malaybalay and Valencia; and the municipalities of Don Carlos, Impasug-ong, Kadingilan, Manolo Fortich, and Maramag.
As of April 2, 2020, some113 liters of hand sanitizers have been distributed to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center, Bukidnon Provincial Hospital-Maramag, Bukidnon Provincial Hospital-Manolo Fortich, Impasug-ong Municipal Hospital, some hospitals in Valencia, and CMU University Hospital.
Hand sanitizers were also distributed to the Office of the Provincial Governor, Provincial Veterinarian, , Municipal Agriculture Office-Impasug-ong, San Isidro Parish, LGU-Dologon, Maramag and checkpoints in Valencia City.
“CMU is always a partner of the country and the surrounding communities. The expertise of the faculty and staff become more valuable in situations like what we are currently in. We are here to serve because we absolutely care,” she added.
The CMU Ethanol Production Team producing ethanol from molasses includes Dr. Gina Barbosa, Dr. Melania Enot, Prof. Ailene May Ang, Dr. Florfe Acma, Dr. Myrna Pabiona, Dr. Melania Guiang, Dr. Queenie Ann Curayag, Engr. Emmie Reyes, Chemist Leonar Jun Gabiana, Chemist Rainear Mendez, and Dr. Joy Jamago.
According to Jamago, the production of hand sanitizers can be sustained when the team can produce its own absolute alcohol.
Since the distillation systems at the university are not designed for large scale production, the team suggested fabricating a large-scale distillation unit in partnership with the Bukidnon Sugar Co. (BUSCO) and Dr. Rodolfo Espinosa, an alcohol expert from Guatemala (through Ms. Jasmin Tan-Lao, BS Chemistry alumna) who provided the team with a method and design to fabricate the distillation set-up.
While fermentation and distillation efforts are still on-going, the team continues to source ethyl alcohol within the university to sustain the production of hand sanitizers. The team is accepting donations of raw materials like ethyl alcohol (95%), glycerol, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled water to maximize production.
The CMU Team is willing to extend technical assistance to other municipalities provided they supply their own raw materials.
CMU community is grateful for the efforts of the following individuals and offices: Natural Products Research Center (NPRDC) headed by Dr. Melania Enot; National Science Research Center (NSRC) headed by Dr. Gina Barbosa; Food Research Development Center (FRDC) headed by Dr. Queenie Ann Curayag; Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory (SPAL) headed by Dr. Myrna Pabiona; Chemistry and Biology Department; Agricultural Engineering Department headed by Engr. Emmie Reyes; Dr. Joy Jamago of Agronomy Department; Prof. Ailene G. Ang; and Tuklas Lunas Development Center headed by Dr. Reggie Y. Dela Cruz.
Aside from hand sanitizers, CMU will also be providing chlorine solution for foot baths and tire sprays in checkpoints and hospitals.
Through the efforts of Dr. Rolito G. Eballe and Dr. Alan P. Dargantes, CMU received gallons of purified water, and bulk amounts of chlorine powder from private companies like MGM Resort of the Panganiban Family.
The donated raw materials have been forwarded to the Natural Science Research Center and will be handled by CMU chemists to formulate a chlorine solution following the preparation protocol mandated by the WHO.
As of April 1, 2020, ten 18 liter containers of chlorine solutions have been forwarded to the University Hospital ready for distribution. Eballe advised municipalities who wish to avail of the chlorine solutions to bring their own containers. (With Iyren A. Dalipe-Neri, PRIO-CMU)