Health April 9, 2024 | 3:12 pm

Dominican Republic moves to implement neonatal screening

Santo Domingo.- The Chamber of Deputies passed a bill this Tuesday in its first reading, mandating the implementation of neonatal screening for the early detection of congenital and metabolic diseases in the child population of the Dominican Republic. The objective of this legislative measure is to ensure that all newborns receive early detection, care, and monitoring for potential metabolic and congenital diseases through neonatal screening tests.

The initiative was introduced to the Upper House by Senators Lía Díaz Santana (PRM-Azua), José Antonio Castillo (FP-San José de Ocoa), and Bautista Bauta Rojas Gómez (FP-Hermanas Mirabal), and subsequently approved by the Senate Plenary.

Although the legislation has been approved on previous occasions, it failed to progress in the Lower House. However, next week, the bill could be ratified in its second reading, as indicated by Alfredo Pacheco, President of the Deputies.

What is neonatal screening?

Neonatal screening encompasses a series of procedures aimed at early detection of Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM) and diseases that could compromise the quality of life and present congenital metabolic abnormalities. One example is the collection of blood samples from the umbilical cord and heel of newborns, enabling specific tests to detect, treat, and provide ongoing monitoring throughout life for metabolic, endocrine, visual, or auditory disorders. These screenings are crucial as undetected conditions could lead to physical or cognitive disabilities and increased infant mortality rates.

Regulations and Implementation

Within 90 days of promulgation and publication of the regulations, the President of the republic will issue guidelines for the law’s implementation. Furthermore, a 24-month (two-year) period is stipulated from the law’s enforcement date to enable both public and private health centers across the country with necessary equipment and personnel to conduct neonatal screening tests for all newborns.

The law will come into effect upon its promulgation and publication, following the constitutional mandates and expiration of deadlines outlined in the Civil Code.

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