By Joshua Mae M. Hormigos
In celebration of the National Newborn Screening Week, the Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health-UPLB (VYLH-UPLB) in partnership with the Municipal Health Office (MHO) of Los Baños, held a seminar for pregnant women at the municipal health unit of Brgy. Batong Malake, Los Baños, Laguna on October 6.
Ten mothers from nearby barangays attended the seminar which tackled topics on Newborn screening, Folic Acid Awareness, and Importance of Breastfeeding.
According to John Patrick Cuenca, coordinator of VYLH-UPLB, newborn screening is a simple procedure or assessment in detecting congenital metabolic disorders for infants who were delivered at the first 24 hours. It is necessary to conduct newborn screening at the first 24 hours of childbirth due to the symptoms detected cannot fully express a specific disorder. The method is done by heel prick method, a procedure collecting a drop of blood from pricking the heel of the infant, and the samples are passed on to the Newborn Screening Reference Centers.
There are five operational Newborn Screening Reference Centers (NSRC) distributed nationwide. These centers are found in UP Manila; Angeles City, Pampanga; Tanauan City, Batangas; West Visayas State University Medical Center; and Southern Philippine Medical Center. NSRCs are involved in detecting disorders by processing test results from hospitals and health centers nationwide. They notify the corresponding hospitals or wards about their patients whose test results are positive on certain disorders.
National Newborn Screening Week is celebrated every first week of October. It aims to spread awareness on the importance of newborn screening procedures. This is in accordance with Republic Act No. 9288 or the Newborn Screening Act of 2004. The act ensures “that every baby born in the Philippines is offered the opportunity to undergo newborn screening.” It develops awareness to parents to promote the right of their children to health and full development.
Apart from the seminar, VYLH-UPLB also launched activities in support of the National Newborn Screening Week. The volunteers shared infographs, brochures, and photos to UPLB constituents. Tee shirts bearing the motto, “Better Health, Better Future” were also given to students interested in sharing the advocacy.
Volunteers changed their display pictures and cover photo on Facebook in support of the campaign. VYLH-UPLB is a network of organizations within UPLB. The volunteers involved were the UPLB Genetics Society, Philippine Association of Nutrition Alpha Omega Chapter, UP Community Broadcasters’ Society Inc., UP OIKOS, and the UPLB Microbiological Society.