LGU, volunteers celebrate newborn screening week

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.

Red Cross-Cabuyao holds blood drive

by Maecel Lesther Jed A. Enriquez

Isang Dugo, Isang Buhay – Sagip Dugtong Project, a mass blood donation activity, was held last October 11 at Gulod National High School, Cabuyao City. This was led by the Philippine Red Cross-Laguna Chapter (Cabuyao Branch) in cooperation with the local government of Cabuyao. The project gathered 44 bags each containing 450cc of blood which is equivalent to almost 20 liters.

The blood collected through the project was allocated to indigent Cabuyeños who have undergone operations, accident, dialysis, and others who might need blood.

According to Joey Boy Bernardo, Cabuyao City Branch Coordinator of Philippine Red Cross- Laguna Chapter, donors can be anyone from 16 to 65 years old who pass the qualifications mandated by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). As stated by the PRC, for a person to be qualified in donating blood, he or she must be in good health and at least 16 or at most 65 years old.

However, blood donors who are 16-17 years old must submit a form reflecting their parent’s consent while donors who are 60-65 years old should be a regular donor.  A person must also weigh at least 110 pounds, have a blood pressure between: Systolic: 90-160 mmHg, Diastolic: 60-100 mmHg; and pass the physical and health history assessments. Steps before, during, and after donating blood can be found at the website of PRC.

Fifty-nine Cabuyeños participated in the Mass Blood Donation project. However, only 44 were qualified to donate blood. The remaining 15 were deferred due to being underweight as well as having low hemoglobin count and low blood pressure.

Oddie Mariquit, a 45 year-old blood donor, said that he donates blood to help people in need and to avail of free check-up which is conducted before the actual blood donation. He also heard about the different health benefits in donating blood.

Donating blood is beneficial to both blood donor and blood beneficiary, as stated by the Philippine Red Cross. Mr. Joey Bernardo said that blood donation provides blood donors with free check-up on weight, body temperature, blood pressure, and hemoglobin count. Likewise the process also helps the body produce new cells. “Ang katawan natin ‘pag nagdo-donate ay parang motor, nagche-change oil. Yung mga lumang dugo niyo ay napapalitan ng panibago,” Mr. Joey added.

Aling Merlyn Rosales who resides in Cabuyao City is one of the Cabuyeños in need of free blood. Her daughter, Maelyn Rosales, underwent cesarean operation on October 19. It is very important for them to avail the blood for free because they cannot afford to pay Php1, 500 for each unit of blood in private institutions. Aling Merlyn’s family was able to avail free blood by just bringing the certificate from the hospital containing the units of blood needed, a letter from their barangay certifying their indigency, and her voter’s ID in the PRC Cabuyao Branch located in Cabuyao City Hall.

Hope Intervention Center celebrates 17th foundation anniv

By Sharlaine M. Balagtas

Hope Intervention Center, the first and only public school for children with autism in the Philippines, celebrated its 17th anniversary with a Halloween-themed costume party last October 23. Held at the Hope Intervention Center campus in Brgy. Halang, Calamba City, the event was attended by students together with their families. Representatives from the local barangay and the city government of Calamba also joined the celebration.

The program started with a prayer led by Earnest Jovida, an alumnus of the center and a graduate of a two-year course in Computer Programming.

The event also showcased the school’s entry during the Autism Society Philippines’ friendship games, dance number to the tune of “Thriller”. Solo song numbers were also performed by Andrei Ramirez and Genesis Eleson, students who have been invited to sing in the Festival of Arts at UPLB on December. Several parents and relatives of the students also shook the crowd in a Halloween-themed dance battle.

School principal Minerva Obrince explained that these events are important because they allow children from the center to experience activities practiced in other schools. “Kahit anong event na ginagawa ng mga normal na bata pwede po rin naming ipagawa sa kanila,” she said.

Hope Intervention Center is the first and only public school for children with neurodevelopmental disorders. First named San Juan Day Care, it was founded in 1998 by a group of parents who wanted special education (SPEd) for their children. The center has been adopted by the Rotary Club of Calamba since 2003 and is funded by the City Government of Calamba. Several donations were made to the center such as their public library donated by the Calamba Doctors Hospital.

The center started with eight students and now has 85 students and 16 employees.