A conference to implement a project to improve population quality by building and expanding prenatal and newborn screening in 12 Mekong Delta provinces took place at the general hospital of the region’s Can Tho city on July 2.

According to the 2009 Population and Housing Census, the mental and physical retardation rate in the population was 1.5 percent. The rate of children suffering from congenital malformation in 2009 was 1.5 - 2 percent.

The project is expected to apply technological advances to detect and prevent some hereditary diseases, aiming to improve reproductive health and population quality.

It aims to equip health staff with skills in consultancy and prenatal screening, and advise 80 percent of expectant mothers on prenatal screening by 2015.

During the same time, it also aims to ensure that 15 percent of expectant mothers in the region receive prenatal screening to control diseases and medical conditions like Down syndrome and thalassaemia, and 30 percent of infants will benefit from newborn screening.

The project, costing over 55 billion VND (2.6 million USD), will be carried out by the General Office of Population and Family Planning from now until 2015.

At the conference, a prenatal and newborn screening centre for the Mekong Delta region was inaugurated at Can Tho General Hospital.-VNA