Bengaluru girl starts campaign for newborn screening programme
16-year-old Shreya Thota started a petition to appeal to the Ministry of Health to implement the programme to potentially improve and save the lives of around 2.5 lakh children.
BENGALURU: A Bengaluru girl has started a campaign for a nationwide newborn screening (NBS) programme, on the lines of similar initiatives in the United Kingdom, Denmark and China.
Shreya Thota, a 16-year-old studying at the International School Bengaluru, started a petition to appeal to the Ministry of Health to implement the programme to potentially improve and save the lives of around 2.5 lakh children in India every year.
"Only around 2 per cent of children are privately screened in India. Kerala, for example, has consistently had one of the lowest child mortality rates and they have implemented a statewide NBS programme. If it's feasible for one state, it has to be feasible in the country as a whole," she said. She said it isn’t too farfetched for India to implement such a programme.
"The goal of the petition is both to approach the ministry to implement the programme as well as spread awareness, especially for new parents, to let them know that screening their children is possible and it can prevent a number of genetic disorders," she said.
The petition, hosted on change.org, has over 3,700 signatures so far. Shreya said that once the petition collects 5,000 signatures, she would try and approach the ministry, as well as raise awareness on the issue on social media.
"While I'm not an expert, I think it would be beneficial if a task force is formed, specifically to find out how to implement such a programme," she added. NBS programmes have been used worldwide to screen newborns for preventable and treatable diseases.
Shreya gives an example of phenylketonuria, an inherited disorder that increases a certain amino acid in the blood and can potentially lead to severe brain damage, intellectual disabilities and even seizures. "But with an NBS programme, it's possible to screen for such disorders and ensure that proper treatment, like a low protein diet, can be implemented immediately," she said.