Pushing the Demand for NBS Services amidst COVID-19 in Western Visayas

Grace P. Exmundo, R.N.

The shift in health priorities to proactively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has created disruptions in both the access and availability of newborn screening (NBS) services. Reports from CY 2020 showed a decrease in all major newborn screening indicators: NBS coverage, recall rate for confirmatory testing, and recall and compliance of confirmed cases to long-term follow-up and management.

With the continuous challenges, there is a drastic need to reintegrate the delivery of NBS services to the “new normal” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address the said indicators, it is essential to generate demand for all NBS services in the context of COVID-19. As such, one main strategy that DOH Western Visayas Center for Health Development in collaboration with the different health and non-health partners and stakeholders, was the adaptation and localization of NBS information, education, and communication materials (IECs) to address frequently asked questions for the NBS program and its services.

One of the developed IECs through JCI Regatta, a local civil society organization (CSO), is the adaptation of the expanded newborn screening brochure. The simplified version was transformed into a poster highlighting the FAQs on newborn screening and its panel of disorders.

Moreover, to bridge the gap between the client’s access to NBS information and management of selected disorders, IEC materials for G6PD Deficiency and Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH) were developed.

The G6PD Deficiency flyer was adapted from the original IEC of UP-NIH, while the CH leaflet was developed from the generated FAQs during the several Reunion of Saved Babies conducted since 2016.

A compendium of best practices was produced for the general public through the DOH WV CHD website.

Reinforcing the reintegration of the NBS program warrants a need to generate demand, and activities supporting it are made available.

NSC Visayas Offers Online NBS Training Module

Meryll Mae T. Padillo, RN

The year 2020 has seen the most challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a year of uncertainty for the Newborn Screening Program in the Visayas Cluster which can be reached by air or water.

This translated to delays in delivery of dried blood specimens, as well as contamination of samples. On top of this, NBS coordinators from various facilities were deployed or assigned for COVID-19 response leaving alternate staff members who were either untrained or partially-trained in newborn screening.

To address the above challenges, the NSC Visayas identified the need for training of these personnel.

On January 4, 2021, the first batch of trainees was given access to pre-recorded video presentations of the Newborn Screening Online Orientation Series. This orientation series is divided into 5 parts, namely: Overview of the NBS Program; Becoming a Newborn Screening Facility; NSCV Administrative Mechanics; Performing Quality Newborn Screening; and Patient Recall.

The objective of the training is to ensure that the staff is equipped with the basic knowledge of roles and responsibilities.

A pre-test, post-test and post-evaluation assessments are required of the participants to secure a Certificate of Completion for each part of the series.

The NBS Online Orientation Series is currently catering to the third batch of participants as of this writing.

NSC VISAYAS Holds Online Consultative Meeting for G6pd Confirmatory Testing

Meryll Mae T. Padillo, RN

Western Visayas has two (2) G6PD Confirmatory Testing Laboratories. One is located at Dr. Pablo O. Torre Sr. Memorial Hospital, catering to Negros Occidental, and another is at West Visayas State University Medical Center (WVSUMC), catering to the four provinces of Panay Island (Iloilo, Capiz, Antique and Aklan) and the island province of Guimaras.

Due to the COVID-19 response of WVSUMC, the OPD Complex that houses the G6PD Confirmatory Testing Lab was converted into a dedicated COVID ward halting the acceptance of walk-in patients for G6PD Confirmatory testing.

On July 23, 2021, in partnership with the Department of Health CHD Western Visayas, an online consultative meeting with various private and government health facilities from the City and Province of Iloilo was conducted.

Representatives were oriented on the need for their G6PD positive-screened patients to undergo the confirmatory testing, as well as their participation in the facilitation of testing. The NSC Visayas Program Manager, Yugie Caroline M. Demegillo, RN, MAP presented the various options to facilitate testing; likewise, urging for active recall of these patients. The NSC Visayas Follow-up Team headed by Dr. Roxanne R. Tuvalles conducted a survey in Iloilo, and it was found that most of the parents were willing to do confirmatory testing upon knowledge of the NBS result.

Thus, it is imperative that newborn screening facilities immediately relay the positive screening result to parents as this will translate to their prompt action, and increase the numbers of those undergoing confirmatory testing for G6PD Deficiency.

If the baby is positive from the testing, parents are advised to make sure that their attending physician knows that their child has G6PD deficiency. If it is negative, then parents or guardians do not have to worry about the contraindicated medicines and food items.

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