Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Legazpi CHO gets recognition for newborn screening program
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 20 (PNA) -- Legazpi City has received recognition from the Department of Health in Bicol (DOH-5) for being the second best local government unit (LGU) in the region in terms of implementing the new born screening (NBS) program.

Fulbert Alec Gillego, head of the City Health Office (CHO), in an interview Tuesday said Legazpi City was named “as the second best implementer” among the LGUs for the NBS program.

He said it is “very important” to screen the babies to find out if it is affected by a certain genetic, metabolic or infectious condition which if left untreated may lead to severe growth and mental retardation, anemia, cataract or even death.

NBS, where a baby’s foot is pricked for a blood sample one to two days after birth, was integrated into the public health delivery system with the enactment of Republic Act 9288 or Newborn Screening Act of 2004.

Currently, there are six disorders screened under the system: congenital hypothyroidism (CH), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), phenylketonuria (PKU), glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, galactosemia (GAL) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD).

Gillego said DOH-5 gave the citation to Legazpi CHO this month through its “7th Salud Bikolnon Awards,” which is its way of honoring its partners who have performed well in implementing DOH’s various health programs for the community. Salud is a Bikol term for health.

DOH-5 awarded the rural health unit (RHU) of the municipality of Sta. Magdalena, Sorsogon as “first best implementer” while the RHU of the municipality of Bulan, also in Sorsogon, was named “third best implementer” of the NBS program.

Gillego, along with personnel of the CHO nursing division, received the plaque of recognition from DOH Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago Jr. and DOH Regional Director Napoleon Arevalo during the awarding rites held in this city.

Santiago said “DOH will also “implement the expanded NBS next year as part of improving the health care services to our babies.”

Expanded screening, which was first implemented in Metro Manila in 2014, includes 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.

Santiago pointed out that NBS is an “integral part of routine newborn care in most developed countries.”

He said in the 2017 national budget, Php43 billion from the people’s taxes will go to pay premiums for Philhealth, the government’s national health insurance program that subsidizes the P600 cost of the newborn screening tests.

Santiago said this means that if a poor patient uses the health facility of the hospital then the NBS will be paid by Philhealth.

The Salud Bikolnon Award is focused on the theme: “Gabos Para Sa Salud, Salud Para Sa Gabos,” that refers to DOH’s flagship health agenda under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte--“All for Health Towards Health for All.” (PNA) LAP/GVR/EPS/CBD/EDS