November 29, 2022

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Two years after the free newborn screening ordinance of Bontoc was enacted, 29 infants born at home and in birthing clinics have been tested.
The screenings showed that none of the 29 infants have congenital disorders.
Ordinance 310 s. 2018 mandates the local government unit to subsidize the cost of newborn screening on infants born outside a hospital.
In 2019, free newborn screenings were administered by personnel of the Municipal Health Office on 10 infants. These include two babies in Barangay Dalican, one in Bontoc Ili, three in Can-eo, two in Guina-ang, and two in Mainit.
In 2020, 14 infants availed of the program to include five in Dalican, three in Mainit, three in Can-eo, one in Guina-ang, one in Bontoc Ili, and one in Tocucan.
For 2021, three in Mainit, one in Guina-ang, and one in Alab have been screened.
MHO Nurse II Jessica Lyn Patingan said parents from the said barangays were willing to have their babies screened since it is free.
Supporting the aim of the Department of Health to minimize or eradicate cases of mental retardation or infant mortality as a result of congenital disorders or deficiencies, Patingan said it is crucial to screen newborns after their first 24 hours of life for them to live a healthy and fruitful life.
“Early detection of diseases allows health professionals to administer treatment to mitigate and control the effects. The newborn screening also put the parents at ease knowing that their child is free from any congenital disorder,” Patingan said.
With an annual budget of P35,000, 18 kits amounting to P1,750 each are purchased yearly. The remaining amount is used for other expenses like courier fees and fees incurred in the newborn screening center.
Mayor Franklin Odsey is delighted that the free newborn screening program is serving its purpose, especially that home deliveries and delivery in barangay birthing clinics still occur, particularly in far-flung barangays. This is due to limited means to travel to the hospital days before giving birth.
“It is the government’s mandate to protect and promote the rights of children to survival and to provide them an opportunity to live a full and healthy development as individuals. The free newborn screening is our gift to our children and the next generation,” Odsey said.
Pursuant to the Newborn Screening Act of 2004 and DOH Guidelines on the Implementation of the Expanded Newborn Screening Program, the DOH aims that by 2030, all Filipino newborns are screened. It also aims to strengthen quality of service and intensify monitoring and evaluation of NBS implementation; achieve ustainable financial scheme; and strengthen patient management.– Christy Che-es and Alpine L. Killa