HCM CITY (VNS)— Prenatal and new-born screening will be expanded in 13 provinces and cities in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta this year, aiming to increase the project's coverage in all provinces and cities across the country.
The provinces and cities in the Delta that will benefit from the project this year include An Giang, Ben Tre, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Can Tho.
The General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP) scheme has been running for six years.
So far, the project has been implemented in 51 provinces and cities. Last year, about 3,700 communes nationwide continued the scheme from previous years, while 2,300 others were introduced to it.
The screening has been the most effective in three centres — the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Hanoi, the Hue University for Medicine and Pharmacy, and the HCM City-based Tu Du Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital.
The National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology last year detected more than 3,300 cases of congenital malformation out of 4,700 suspected ones.
Pham Phuong Lan, head of the hospital's Training Ward, said the malformation is often seen in a new-born's belly, head, chest and then the four limbs, face and spinal column.
"The hospital will transfer the technology of taking and preserving blood samples from the new-born's heel to help new-born screening in the expanded provinces and cities," she said.
Deputy director of Can Tho Hospital, Nguyen Huu Du, said setting up a centre for prenatal and new-born screening in the Mekong Delta is necessary and urgent.
"Prenatal and new-born screening is very important and becomes each family's demand, especially when more and more residents are aware of the importance of having healthy babies," he said.
Du said a centre should be eastablished in Can Tho City, considered the economic, scientific and technological centre of the delta.
Deputy director of the Population and Family Planning Department under the GOPFP, Tran Ngoc Sinh, said that besides expanding the project's coverage, it will carry out a pilot programme of screening for Thalasemia disease, a form of inherited autosomal recessive blood disorders.
Tran Thi Lieu, director of the Long An Department of Population and Family Planning, said that this year the province has been allocated VND3 billion (US$142,800) from the state and provincial budget to conduct the project.
Every year about 300-450 children with congenital malformation are born in the province.
Under the project, local medical population workers will disseminate the project's necessity to improve residents' awareness on prenatal and new-born screening.
The department this year wants 70 per cent of new-borns and 68 per cent of pregnant women in the province to be screened.
The department has designed a prenatal screening recommendation which will be delivered to communes' medical stations. Lieu said the stations will then forward this when required to centres which can carry out the screening in the province.
His department has also signed a contract with the HCM City hospital to conduct new-born screening for about 1,500 cases.
More than 87,000 children with congenital malformation are born each year in Viet Nam and about 4,000-5,000 of them are from the Mekong Delta. — VNS