The General Office for Population and Family Planning (GOPFP) scheme will expand prenatal and newborn screening in 13 provinces and cities in the Mekong Delta this year.

The project, which has been running for six years, aims to increase its coverage in all provinces and cities across the country.

The benefiting provinces and cities in the Delta include An Giang, Ben Tre, Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Can Tho.

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 Ho Chi Minh City-based Tu Du Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital .

In 2012, the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology detected more than 3,300 cases of congenital malformation out of 4,700 suspected ones.

Pham Huong Lan, Head of the hospital’s Training Ward, said 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.

For Deputy Director of Can Tho Hospital, Nguyen Huu Du, setting up a centre for prenatal and new-born screening in the Mekong Delta is necessary and urgent when more and more residents are aware of the importance of having healthy babies.

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.

More than 87,000 children with congenital malformation are born each year in Vietnam and about 4,000 – 5,000 of them are from the Mekong Delta.-VNA