Written by Zyra Nikka Indap
PASAY CITY- It was a cloudy afternoon but it didn’t hinder to unite more than 1,800 health professionals, advocates and guests from different regions of the country to gather and celebrate the first two decades of Newborn Screening in the Philippines.
This year’s NBS convention with the theme, “Celebrating 20 Years of Newborn Screening towards Overall Screening and Management”, was held on October 25 and 26 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City. The event annually organized by the Newborn Screening Society of the Philippines Inc. (NSSPI) and Newborn Screening Reference Center (NSRC)-National Institute of Health (NIH), University of the Philippines – Manila aimed to update the participants through the talks by invited local and international experts.
Day One (October 25)
The President of NSSPI, Dr. Ephraim Neal Orteza cordially welcomed the delegates. Followed by special messages delivered by Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco de la Paz, Vice-Chancellor for Research of UP Manila and Executive Director of National Institutes of Health and Undersecretary Florita Villar delivered the inspirational message on behalf of Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. Usec. Villar emphasized health as one of the rights of the children to be protected by which it concerns the department. Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, Director of Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH), previewed DOH’s comprehensive range programs for newborns through his keynote address on behalf on Department of Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial.
The first plenary session was led by Dr. Carmencita Padilla, Chancellor of UP Manila and pillar of the implementation of NBS in the country. She vividly discussed the challenges and success in the past 20 years and presented a preview into the nest 20 years. Dr. Padilla highlighted the milestones of NBS implementation including development in neighboring Asian countries. “I can proudly say that this is a successful program because of volunteerism, whether resulting from professional feeling of national responsibility or a simple desire to do good” said Dr. Padilla. She also acknowledged the contribution of each individual’s volunteerism in reaching the goals of the NBS program and encouraged everyone to advocate for Expanded Newborn Screening (ENBS). The launch of ENBS last December 2014 has allowed the testing of 22 additional disorders aside from the basic panel of six disorders namely Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH), Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), Phenylketonuria (PKU), G6PD Deficiency (G6PDD), Galactosemia, and Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD).
Dr. Maria Melanie Liberty Alcausin, Director of Newborn Screening Reference Center brought new hopes in implementing the program as she discussed plans for new newborn screening centers (NSCs) and an update on confirmatory centers. She further gave details on the coverage of Expanded Newborn Screening program (ENBS). On the other hand, Dr. Reynaldo de Castro Jr. gave updates on thalessemias beyond the NBS program. He believes that screening leads to prevention of these congenital hemolytic disorders.