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National

October 13, 2017

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Fundraising gala held to raise awareness for ‘New Born Screening Test’

Fundraising gala held to raise awareness for ‘New Born Screening Test’

ISLAMABAD: Stars from an array of fields gathered at a fundraising gala dinner and auction organised by ZB Foundation on Thursday to raise awareness and funds for the largely ignored heel prick test (New Born Screening Test).

Prominent names from politics, media, fashion, medicine and business were in attendance at the glitter-filled red carpet evening, to show solidarity with the cause of promoting New Born Screening Test which, if performed in time, can actually save thousands of lives.

New Born Screening is a test given to a baby within 72 hours of being born. This is a simple prick of the heel and blood drawn out on to a blood sample card. This card is then sent to the lab where it is tested for many diseases which could not be detected otherwise.

Based in Pakistan, The ZB Foundation’s aim is to pioneer the use of New Born Screening, target the uncharted medical area of rare metabolic diseases, and over time, become a compelling soldier for the fight against baby and infant deaths and substandard pediatric medicine and healthcare facilities. Through collaborating clinics and hospitals and educating doctors and parents, babies now have the opportunity to receive a free heel prick test (New Born Screening Test) within 72 hours of being born in Pakistan.

The ZB Foundation has its own laboratory in Islamabad which runs 100 per cent on donations. “The foundation is working with 25 hospitals in Islamabad and Northern Pakistan and aim to branch out to the rest of the country,” said founder of ZB Foundation Akbar Naqvi in his inspiring speech while describing the journey of ZB foundation.

It was the death of their adopted child Zara that prompted the couple, Akbar Naqvi and Danielle Naqvi, to initiate a charity to provide the facility of test in Pakistan and create awareness among masses about the importance of this simple test. “The pain of losing Zara was unbearable but we realised that she came for a purpose. In fact, she inspired us to do something for this neglected health sector,” said Danielle Wilson Naqvi while describing the ordeal she went through when she was losing her four-month daughter which could have been saved provided the couple was aware of the test.

Highlighting the size of their mission, Akbar Naqvi said that approximately 4 million babies are born annually in Pakistan and to date they had tested 5,500 babies. The Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar alone delivers approximately 70 babies a day that is 25,000 a year. “So the scale of the mission is immense but The ZB Foundation is only just getting started. We passionately believe that we will touch many more babies and give them the right start to life.”

He said that their most important objectives has always been that every Pakistani baby born should be given their birth right to a heel prick test, just like any other new born baby around the world, especially in the developed world where this test is a birth right.

Dr Ali Raza, who spearheads the campaign, talked about the need of collaborative effort with active contribution from the community. He explained the process of New Born Screening Test and urged the community to come forward in taking the message and the facility to the masses.

UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan Niel Bohne appreciated the efforts of ZB Foundation and termed it an amazing example of how communities respond to injustice. He said that it was heartening to see many good things happening in health sector in Pakistan by the government and private sector. “Best thing is when individuals join hands in service delivery initiatives,” he said.

Ambassador of Netherlands in Pakistan Jeanette Seppen shared that New Born Screening Test started in Netherlands in 1974. “In start, it was conducted for only one disease but now this test is conducted for 14 metabolic diseases and the cost is reimbursed by the government,” she shared. 

Chairman ZB Foundation Ali Javed Naqvi said that testing of around 6000 babies in Pakistan is just a beginning and things would move forward with the support of friends and partners until the target of reaching out to everyone is achieved. The event that’s started with the red carpet, introduction speeches and auction ended with the award distribution, splash of music and delicious food.

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