- WA commended for key role in landmark initiative on Newborn Bloodspot Screening
- New national framework set to standardise the approach to newborn screening
Health Minister Roger Cook has welcomed the decision of Newborn Bloodspot Screening (NBS) programs across Australia to unite in their approach to what is included in this important newborn test.
Commonly known as the 'Guthrie' or 'heel prick test', NBS has been a routine part of newborn care in Australia for half a century. It involves drawing a few drops of blood from the heel of an infant in their first days of life, and screening it for a range of medical disorders.
NBS checks for about 25 conditions and is estimated to save the lives of 35 babies in Western Australia every year. It allows for disorders to be detected early and treated effectively.
The Minister praised Western Australia's Department of Health for its pivotal role in the development of a National NBS policy framework, which has now been endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council.
In Australia, NBS is provided by programs that are run and funded by State and Territory governments and therefore operate independently of one another.
The framework unites these programs for the first time since their inception 50 years ago, setting out a nationally agreed vision and way of working. It also details what will be needed to ensure the ongoing success of the NBS in Australia.
The policy framework is available online at http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"The creation of this framework will ensure Newborn Bloodspot Screening programs continue to be regarded as one of the most successful population health initiatives of our time.
"The framework provides clear, national approaches that will support programs into the future by ensuring they are well placed to respond to advances in science and technology while remaining safe and effective.
"Endorsement of this initiative is a tribute to the fantastic work of our own Department of Health which provided leadership through key staff in the Office of Population Health Genomics, as well as funding and secretariat support to the working group responsible for developing the framework.
"The new framework will also improve consistency, cost effectiveness, transparency and accountability of the individual programs, and enhance healthcare equity across the nation."
Minister's office - 6552 6500