BONTOC, Mountain Province – Free newborn screening to infants born at home and in birthing clinics in the barangays of this municipality is hoped to take effect starting next year.
This, after the Sangguniang Bayan passed Ordinance No. 310, s. 2018, mandating the Local Government Unit of Bontoc, Mountain Province to subsidize the cost of newborn screening administered on infants born outside the hospital but within its territorial jurisdiction.
Sponsored by SB member Alsannyster Patingan, the council supported the passage of the ordinance because they believed that 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.
This is also in support of the Republic Act 9288, or the Newborn Screening Act of 2004 which was instituted to screen newborns or infants, as much as possible, within few days upon delivery, for early detection and possible treatment of congenital abnormalities, deficiencies, or such other maladies at the earliest possible time.
The council recently approved the ordinance with the observation that while hospital delivery of newborns is highly encouraged for the purpose of availability of medical facilities, home deliveries and delivery in barangay birthing clinics still occur, particularly in the far-flung barangays. This is due to limited means to travel to the hospital days in advance to prepare for hospital delivery.
Thus, compared to hospital deliveries where newborn screening can be made immediately available right after birth, home delivered newborns and those delivered at the birthing clinics are not brought to the hospitals for the conduct of newborn screening.This is due to financial constraints and distance.
Also, despite the persistence of the personnel of the Municipal Health Office (MHO) in going to the residence of the newly delivered infant to conduct the test, paying the cost of newborn screening makes it difficult to convince the parents to avail of such service.
Hence, the Sangguniang Bayan crafted the ordinance to make Newborn Screening available to all particularly those residing in the far-flung barangays who could not make it to the hospital for deliveries, and those who are financially unable to shoulder the cost of newborn screening.
The cost of the newborn screening shall be subsidized by the Bontoc Municipal Government as it was stipulated in the ordinance that the Local Chief Executive shall ensure the appropriation of P75, 000 in the Annual Budget of the municipality for this purpose.
Mayor Odsey voiced his full support to the ordinance passed by the council adding that this is a means of bringing health programs closer to the communities especially catering to the children.
“Our children need not to suffer from congenital abnormalities, deficiencies, and even death when they could lead normal lives,” he added.
The ordinance shall take effect on January 1, 2019, or upon approval on review by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
By Alpine L. Killa