The Daily Herald writes that screening of newborn babies was implemented on Bonaire per January 1, 2015. Later this year, St. Eustatius and Saba will follow. Bonaire’s Public Health Department and the local hospital, Mariadal Foundation, are working together with the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS and the Centre for Population Research of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands RIVM.
The first neonatal screening via the so-called heel prick (“hielprik”) have been carried out. The heel prick cards with the blood of the newborns will be sent to the Netherlands and screened for 17 diseases. After Bonaire, the screening will be introduced in St. Eustatius and Saba.
The neonatal screening, offered to babies shortly after their birth, aims to trace rare, mostly genetic diseases. Timely treatment can prevent or limit severe damage to the physical and mental development of the child. The implementation of the neonatal screening improves the care of mother and child in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba had requested the implementation of the neonatal screening, a test that is standard in the Netherlands. Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers took a positive decision in 2013, based on research carried out by the RIVM in close cooperation with the islands authorities and involved organisations in the Netherlands.