27 Nov 2009 13:39

MoH sets health screening targets for newborns

Shanghai. November 27. INTERFAX-CHINA - The Ministry of Health (MoH) issued a work plan on Nov. 27 regarding China's newborn screening program in the hope of increasing the early detection of infant health issues and diseases affecting newborns.

According to the plan, the government aims to set up provincial newborn screening networks across China in 2012 and complete the project by 2015.

The MoH targets for newborn disease screening rates in eastern China, central China and western China to respectively hit 90 percent, 50 percent and 40 percent by 2012. The rates will rise to 95 percent, 80 percent and 60 percent by 2015. Earlier in June this year, the MoH noted that main diseases to be screened include phenylketonuria and congenital hypothyroidism.

Newborn hearing screening rates in eastern China, central China and western China are targeted to hit 80 percent, 40 percent and 30 percent respectively by 2012. By 2015, the rates are expected to stand at 90 percent, 60 percent and 50 percent.

The MoH asked local government agencies to formulate plans to set up newborn screening centers, set reasonable fees for newborn screening services and allocate sufficient funds to carry out the newborn screening program.

According to the MoH, local government agencies should also upgrade the information system for newborn screenings and set up national and provincial newborn screening training centers for medical staff.

China records approximately 1 million newborns with diseases and disabilities each year. A recent survey by the National Women's and Children's Health Monitoring Office showed that 47.9 percent of the total 2,050 respondents were not fully aware of the implications of phenylketonuria, congenital hypothyroidism and hearing loss. Also, 38.6 percent of the respondents were not aware of the government's newborn screening program.

- KZ