First newborn screening point opens at HFH

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RAWALPINDI: The Zahra Beau Welfare Foundation (ZBWF) has launched the first sample collection point for newborn screening at Holy Family Hospital (HFH).

Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) Vice Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Umar, officially inaugurated the free new-born screening, recognising it as a fundamental right for all new-borns, a news release said.

Dr Shabina, Assistant Director of Medical Facilities of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination was invited to grace the occasion with their presence. In collaboration with RMU, The ZBW Foundation has initiated a programme to provide free newborn screening services at three major public hospitals: Holy Family Hospital, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, and Rawalpindi Teaching Hospital.

The Holy Family Hospital serves as the starting point for this initiative. These hospitals, with the highest birth rates in the twin cities, will screen all newborns for Congenital Hypothyroidism, a leading cause of intellectual and physical disabilities in Pakistan.

Since 2016, the Zahra Beau Welfare Foundation (ZBWF) has been the pioneer in introducing the Newborn Screening (NBS) programme in Pakistan. To date, the organisation has screened over 64,000 newborns nationwide.

The NBS test enables the timely detection and diagnosis of certain disorders that are not apparent at birth, thereby preventing long-term health issues and reducing mortality in newborns.

ZBWF is registered as a non-profit organisation with the SECP under section 42 of the Companies Act, 2017 and is certified by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP).

Acknowledgement: Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2024.

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