Panaji: Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, on Monday, relaunched ‘Heel To Heal,’ Goa government’s comprehensive newborn screening programme after a gap of five years, which will enable the medical practitioners in identifying metabolic disorders amongst the infants and taking measures to ensure the babies lead a healthy life.
Goa was the first state in the country to run the programme in the year 2008, but later it was discontinued, however, it has been restarted utilising the services of a Bangalore-based agency ‘NeoGen Labs,’ and screening tests will now be done in all state-run hospitals across Goa where institutional delivery takes place.
The screening test can detect over 50 disorders in the infants.
“The programme has been my pet project. At present, the screening test will be made available in the government hospitals. However, there is no restriction… from private hospitals, parents can get their baby to Goa Medical College and Hospital and get the test done,” said Rane interacting with media persons after re-launching the programme at GMC.
He informed that on an average 11,000 deliveries take place in the government hospitals every year, and all the newborns will mandatorily have to undergo the screening test.
Rane further said that the health department is exploring the possibility of making the newborn screening programme mandatory even in the private hospitals of Goa.
“In many genetic and metabolic disorders, symptoms don’t begin until days or weeks after an infant is born and by the time symptoms are seen the damage may already have occurred in the nervous, kidney and other systems. Therefore, early detection of these serious disorders in all infants is extremely important,” said Dr Mimi Silveira, head of pediatrics department at the GMC.
She further said that the newborn screening programme will help in early diagnosis, and added that the effective treatment will reduce the risk of diseases, visibility and even death of infants in the state thus lowering the infant mortality rate in Goa.
“The screening test is not a confirmatory test. It just indicates that there may be something wrong. Infants testing positive during the screening will have undergo further test to determine if they do have the disease or results were false positive,” she explained.
The relaunching programme was followed by the demonstration of the newborn screening test. [NT]