DOH lauds Capitol, province-run hosps for newborn screening program

The Cebu Provincial Government, as well as the provincial and district hospitals it currently runs, has been awarded by the Department of Health (DOH) for its successful implementation and promotion of newborn screening.

During the Newborn Screening Visayas awarding ceremony last October 26, Capitol was given a special citation by DOH, recognizing its “active role in helping the government improve the health of Filipino children through newborn screening.”

Several provincial government-run hospitals were also recognized for achieving impressive records in performing newborn screening in their respective facilities.

Exemplary Achievers awardees were Cebu Provincial Hospital-Balamban; Cebu Provincial Hospital-Bogo; Bantayan District Hospital; Barili District Hospital; Minglanilla District Hospital; Oslob District Hospital and Tuburan District Hospital.

Recipients of the Achievers award were Juan B. Dosado Memorial Hospital in Sogod town; Badian District Hospital; Ricardo Maningo Memorial Hospital in Camotes Island; and Isidro Kintanar Memorial Hospital in Argao.

The acknowledgement received by the hospitals and the Provincial Government supports Gov. Hilario P. Davide III’s healthcare advocacy, which is part of his 6-key development agenda.

Dr. Olivia Dandan, medical chief of Cebu Provincial Hospital-Balamban, said this is the second year they’ve received the award and they’re pleased that their efforts are acknowledged.

“This is how they will know if their babies have sicknesses and ailments. For example, if a baby has hypothyroidism, mudako na mentally retarded and growth is affected. If ma-detect, matambalan and they can grow normally,” Dandan said.

Dandan said they continually push for the newborn screening because apart from being mandatory under the law, it is the parents’ first line of defense for their children.

Newborn screening (NBS) is part of the National Comprehensive Newborn Screening System of the DOH that allows early detection of several congenital metabolic disorders, which if left untreated, may lead to mental retardation or death.

In 2004, Republic Act 9288 or the Newborn Screening Act was passed into law, mandating newborns to undergo the screening.

Dandan explained that before the law was passed, charges for the newborn screening were separate from the hospital bill, giving parents the option to avail of it or not.

“Now, mo-follow gyud ta sa balaod, gi-incorporate sa billing, so mao na nimahal (ang hospital bill),” Dandan said, but explained that newborn screening is now fully covered by Philhealth.

She added that through their extensive campaign, almost all parents-to-be are informed about the newborn screening and are no longer hesitant to have their babies undergo the program.

Dr. Guy Perez, OIC-chief of the Local Health Support Division of the DOH, urged the doctors and hospitals to continue pushing for the newborn screening system.

“Through this law, we have continually saved babies from death, diseases and mental retardation thus assuring of having normal and healthy lives,” said Perez.

Perez reminded medical practitioners of their responsibility of ensuring that children will not be deprived of their right to full and healthy development as individuals.

“They, too, deserve a better quality of life. As long as there is that certain effort from each one of us as partners and stakeholders and our commitment as health service providers, everything is possible in making our children productive and reliable as future leaders of this country,” he added.

Ma. Elouisa Reyes, OIC-director for DOH Newborn Screening Reference Center, also recognized the doctors and hospitals in the Visayas for always supporting the newborn screening program.

Moreover, she announced that a Regional Newborn Screening Center will soon be set-up in the Eversley Child Sanitarium hospital in Mandaue City, Cebu.

The regional center will be a big help, said Reyes, especially now that they hope the doctors would push for the expanded newborn screening that can already detect more diseases.

“The challenge now is to expand efforts, this time towards the expanded screening so that we can save more lives,” she said.

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