Newborn Screening Act of 2004
Republic Act No. 9288, otherwise known as the Newborn Screening Act of 2004 institutionalizes a comprehensive, integrative and sustainable national newborn screening system to ensure that every newborn baby in the Philippines have the chance to undergo newborn screening, which will ultimately spare them from either mental retardation, serious health complication or death from heritable diseases that are left untreated and undetected. Some of the heritable diseases included in the newborn screening system are: Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH), Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), Phenylketonuria (PKU), Galactosemia (GAL) and Glucose-6-phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency (G6PD Def.). If left undetected and untreated, CH may progress to severe growth and mental retardation, CAH may cause death, GAL may cause death or progress to cataracts, PHU may progress to severe mental retardation, and G6PD Def. may progress to severe anemia and kernicterus.<ref>Basic Information About Newborn Screening. Department of Health (DOH). Accessed on May 30, 2008.</ref>
In 1998, the Department of Health (DOH) introduced newborn screening in the country, issuing an administrative order two years later that by the year 2004, newborn screening shall be part of standard newborn care. In December 2003, the DOH issued another administrative order establishing a National Newborn Screening System. With the passing of RA 9288, every baby born in the country would have an opportunity to be screened for heritable diseases, and its implementation will provide the opportunity to identify and save over 30,000 newborns<ref>Screening for Inborn Errors of Metabolism (PDF File). Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc. Policy Statements, Series 2004 Vol. 1, No. 4. Accessed on May 30, 2008.</ref> annually from negative health outcomes.
The Act was a consolidation of Senate Bill. No 2707 and House Bill No. 6625, which were passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on February 2, 2004 and February 5, 2004, respectively. It was formally signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on April 4, 2004.
The Newborn Screening Act of 2004 calls for the establishment and integration of a sustainable, comprehensive newborn screening system in the public health delivery system.
Obligation to Inform
The Act requires that any health practitioner, especially those who delivers, or assists in the delivery of a newborn, are made aware of the advantages and benefits of newborn screening, and they are obliged to inform, prior to delivery, the parents or guardians of the nature and availability of newborn screening. The continuing education of the practitioners and the public is the responsibility of the DOH.
Right for Refusal
The Act ensures that the parents recognize their responsibility in promoting their child’s right to health and development by protecting their child through newborn screening. The Act also recognizes the parents' right to refuse the test on the grounds of religious beliefs, but the parents are require to acknowledge in writing their understanding that the refusal places their child at risk for undiagnosed heritable conditions.
The DOH, with the assistance of the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other organizations is responsible of the continuing education, re-education and training of health personnel on the rationale, benefits and procedures of newborn screening. It is also in charge of the dissemination of information materials on newborn screening at least annually to all health personnel involved.
Licensing and Accreditation
As a condition for licensure and accreditation, all health institutions are required by DOH and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) to provide newborn screening services.
Newborn Screening Centers
The Act calls for the establishment of Newborn Screening Centers that are strategically located in places accessible to the public. It also calls for the creation of a Newborn Screening Reference Center responsible for the database and case registries, and for training, technical assistance and continuing education as well as certification of laboratory staff.
The Newborn Screening Reference Center is tasked to create and maintain a database of patients tested and a registry for each heritable disease. The relevant health information consolidated from the database will be reported annually to the DOH and the NIH.
- Full-text (PDF File) of RA 9288 available in the Newborn Screening Reference Center Website. Accessed on May 30, 2008.