A decree is being prepared to introduce the standard medical screening of newborn children on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba on January 1, 2015. Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers sent the decree proposal to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday to adopt the health insurance decree for the Caribbean Netherlands.
The neonatal screening of newborn infants, called the “hielprik” in Dutch, is standard in the Netherlands and will be introduced in the Caribbean Netherlands to detect rare genetic diseases of the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis and a number of metabolism related illnesses. The screening of a baby within the first week of its birth is done by taking a few drops of blood from the heel of the child which will be analysed in a laboratory. There are no costs involved for the parents and the screening will be fully paid for by the Dutch Government. The screening is not obligatory and permission will be asked of the parent(s).
Speedy detection of the genetic diseases in question can prevent or limit extremely serious damage to the physical and mental development of young children. Most of the diseases that are looked at in the screening cannot be cured, but can be treated with medication and special diets.
Minister Schippers stated in the explanatory note sent to the Dutch Parliament that she expected that the introduction of the newborn screening in the Caribbean Netherlands would cost about 20,000 euros per year. The cost covers the screening, the logistic dispatch to the Netherlands, the blood laboratory analysis and the cost for material and registration. The costs for a follow-up screening in case of an anomalous result and when the child is diagnosed as carrying one of the genetic diseases in question will be carried by the Dutch Government as well. The follow-up treatment of these children will take place within the regular health care system. The implementation and startup costs of the newborn screening over the first two years are expected to be some 450,000 euros, to be covered by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK.
The neonatal screening of rare genetic diseases will be a responsibility of the Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports, just as in the Netherlands. The coordination will be done by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM, part of the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS.