Sunday , 24 February 2019

This Initiative Could Turn Into Scam


PUBLIC policy all over the world surrounding newborn screening is in flux. New technology allows screening for more diseases at a huge cost. Such programmes should be carefully evaluated before large-scale testing is introduced. After all the money spent analysing 10,000 newborns you may come across that odd expensive-to-treat or untreatable disease! Our Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has recently launched ‘newborn screening’ programme at  the Goa Medical College and Hospital, Bambolim. The programme had been launched five  years back; however it was discontinued. Why? It was certainly, because better sense prevailed and it was felt that the crores of rupees spent mostly in vain could be allocated to support peripheral primary health centres where basic care facilities are lacking. If you carefully analyse the published results of the three-year review (from 2008 to 2011) of the newborn screening programme in place at the GMC at that time you come across ambiguities galore. Constant repetition is made of a single case of phenylketonuria (which has laughably been meticulously followed). A mention is made of fatty acid and aminoacid disorders but we are not made any wiser as to their outcome. My fear is in the fact that such “altruistic” programmes also have the potential of turning into “big scams”.


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