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Top Story

February 20, 2017



PM approves project for screening of newborns

System will help check certain disabilities
right in beginning of life of child


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has approved the establishment of newborn screening project and it has been made part of the Prime Minister National Health Programme (PMNHP) for the needy. 

The whole country will come under the scope of the screening phase by phase. The system will help check certain disabilities right in the beginning of the life of the child making it easy to overcome it at the early stage. 

Highly placed sources told The News that it would be the first project in the country that would facilitate screening of newborns and identify any disease particularly relating to hearing and speech of the child soon after birth. 

It is likely that the project would start working next month as the matter is with the Ministry of Finance for fiscal sanction. In case of hearing and speech deficiencies, the screening would help the doctor to determine therapy/treatment of the newborn.

In certain cases hearing aides are fitted while others need cochlear implant. In both the cases the child could be saved from lifelong disability. 

One single unit of the project would cost less than rupees one million and screening could be conducted by the lady health visitors (LHV) after brief training even by visiting the home of the newborn.

The government has planned to set up pilot project of the unit in Islamabad where Ms. Maryam Nawaz Sharif is associated with the PMNHP for steering it on volunteer basis. 

The idea of having newborn screening was also floated by Ms. Maryam Nawaz Sharif and she took interest personally in the development of the project. 

State Minister for CADD Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhary has been assigned to install the project, the sources said. Number of units will be established in different parts of the country one it is set up in the federal capital. 

The needed technical knowhow has been gathered from abroad and trained staff would be available as the screening projects are established on massive scale in the country, the sources added.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had asked the ministry concerned to start work on the project within shortest possible time so that chances of disability should be reduced up to maximum extent.