DOH lauds health facilities on newborn screening implementation

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MANILA, Philippines –Together with the Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC), the Department of Health (DOH)-Calabarzon on Friday, 25 October 2019, has recognized and acknowledged the exemplary performance and contribution of different health facilities and institutions on the implementation of the expanded newborn screening program in the region during the Second Newborn Screening Awarding Ceremonies held at the Bayleaf Hotel in General Trias, Cavite.

“The implementation of newborn screening for the last 15 years has saved countless of children’s lives and it was done with the support of hospitals, lying-ins, rural health units, health centers and private clinics having mandated by Republic Act 9288 also known as the Newborn Screening Act of 2004 by requiring them to mandatory screen every newborn of possible disorders to ensure their health and safety,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo stated during his message at the start of the awarding ceremony.

“Napakaimportante ng NBS and this is something that we have to focus on. We have to have research on NBS dahil marami pa taung makikita. Dati 6 disorders lang ang findings, ngayon 28 na, at marami pa tayong madidiskubre,” Janairo said.

“Kailangan din nating malaman ang relationship ng traditional complimentary medicine for the care of the newborn as they grow old. We might need other modalities that can be used such as Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) through organic, natural food and nutrition. Meron ding acupuncture pressure, massage, chi pratice, balance of yin and yang. All these modalities can be used for the care of a child and prevent any ensuing disease that comes from NBS.”

Janairo the department also “needs to have a follow-up on those who acquired the disorders, how they went through with their diseases, and what was done to alleviate their condition. This is our challenge, we will do interventions using TCAM or any research valuable and hopefully we next time we can do an awarding providing not just plaques or medals but giving recognition and financial assistance to valuable research done by a local individual, facility or an institution.”

The NBS awards are given to health facilities and institutions for their accomplishment in attaining a high coverage in NBS and also in recognition for their support in the government’s effort in improving the health of the Filipino people through their contributions in the field of newborn screening advocacy, education, implementation and institutionalization of the program.

Among the awards given were the “Finalist Recognition Awards” – given to Newborn Screening facilities whose performance rating for at least 1 year (either 2017 or 2018) with 95% coverage and 1% unsatisfactory rate; “Achievers Awards” 2017 & 2018 – given to Newborn Screening facilities whose performance rating for at least 1 year (either 2017 or 2018) with 95% coverage and less than 1% unsatisfactory rate; “Specials Awards” – this awards recognizes the efforts of an individual or group who made exemplary contribution to the NBS program for the year 2017-2018; and “Exemplary Awards” —  given to Newborn Screening Facilities (NSFs) whose performance rating meets the criteria set by the DOH and NSRC for two consecutive years 2017-2018, which is 95 % coverage and with less than 1% unsatisfactory rate.

There are 10 health facilities awarded with the “Newborn Screening Exemplary Performance Award”, 159 awardees bagged the “Achievers Award”, “Recognition Award” also with 159 awardees, and “Special Award” with 7 awardees.

Newborn screening is the procedure for the early detection of infants affected by certain genetic, metabolic, or infectious conditions that may lead to mental retardation, hamper the growth and development of a child or even death if not properly treated.

It includes the screening of six disorders namely congenital hypothyroidism (CH), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), phenylketonuria (PKU), glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, galactosemia (GAL) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD).

Regional Family Health Cluster Head, Dr. Felices Emerita Perez added that the expanded screening will include 22 more disorders such as hemoglobinopathies and additional metabolic disorders, namely, organic acid, fatty acid oxidation, and amino acid disorders. The latter are included in the standard care across the globe.

“The NBS is done by taking a few drops of blood from a baby’s heel within 24 hours of the delivery of the infant and will be forwarded to the Newborn Screening Center (NSC) for analysis. Results can be obtained from the health facility where it has been done within 7 to 14 days. NBS is available in hospitals, lying-in facilities, rural health units, health centers, and several private clinics,” she explained. (BC/IA/CNS)

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