Sidra Symposium Urges National Programme for New-born Baby Screening

Doha, November 1 (QNA) – Top medical experts Thursday gave a call for setting up a national programme in Qatar for neonatal (new-born) screening to prevent the onset of diseases.
This call was made at the second Sidra Symposia Series which probed the importance of new-born screening and how it can help prevent the development of diseases.
 Hosted by the Sidra Medical and Research Center, the event highlighted the benefits of new-born screening to diagnose and prevent genetic metabolic diseases, leading to calls for a national programme to screen every child in Qatar.
 According to the latest studies and international best practices, screening of new-born babies for metabolic diseases, which is performed through a simple blood test, should be done within the first 24-72 hours after birth.
 There is a growing need for screening facilities in doctors  offices and clinics, as well as in hospitals to ensure such tests could be performed regularly.
 The Sidra Symposium titled,  Neonatal Screening of Genetic Diseases and Child Development  included a panel discussion comprising Dr. Mohamed Al Thani, Director of the Public Health Department at the Supreme Council of Health; Dr. Tawfeg Ben-Omran, Head of Qatar Medical Genetics Center at Hamad Medical Corporation and Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q); Professor Gunther Wess, CEO and Scientific Director of Helmhotz Zentrum Munchen; Professor Walter Rosenthal, Director of the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch; and Professor Annette Grueters, Molecular Endocrinologist and Dean of the University Faculty Charite Berlin.
More than 40 of the top medical experts from the Supreme Council of Health (SCH), Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), WCMC-Q and Qatar Foundation (QF) attended the symposium at the Four Seasons hotel in Doha.
 The event was led and moderated by Dr. Joachim Dudenhausen, Medical Advisor and Head of Medical Staff Services at Sidra Medical and Research Center, and a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at WCMC-Q.
At the panel discussion, Dr. Dudenhausen stressed the importance of screening new-borns for genetic diseases.
“Early diagnosis of inborn errors, such as diabetes, can mean that these genetic abnormalities can then be prevented from manifesting and developing.
 This can be done through increased awareness of lifestyle choices and the ways in which these can be applied from a young age in order to prevent the development of metabolic related diseases in the future,” Dr. Dudenhausen said.
“Neonatal screening is the best way to treat and prevent clinical manifestation from genetic diseases and Qatar is an excellent location for research on genetic abnormalities and how these can be recognized and treated.”
 Commenting on the prominence of this topic in the medical community, and the importance of raising awareness, Dr. Mohamed Al Thani said, “Neonatal screening should be mandated for all new-born babies in every hospital and relevant medical facility in Qatar.
 This screening process can help to combat and prevent illnesses that are prevalent in our country, such as diabetes, metabolic disorders, hypothyroidism, and jaundice.
“This simple procedure can create a healthier society, helping parents and families to understand and implement straight forward lifestyle choices that can prevent the child from developing these diseases later in life. I would very much like to see a national programme from the Supreme Council of Health to ensure that all new-borns are given the best start possible in life.”
 Dr. Tawfeg Ben-Omran provided an overview of HMC’s successful expanded neonatal screening program that has been in place for nine years, concluding that increased awareness through family education, new-born screening, family screening, initiation of effective premarital and preconception counselling and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis are imperative in early detection and treatment of inborn errors of metabolism.
“HMC’s new-born screening programme is committed to ensuring that every new-born in Qatar receives high quality and timely screenings and treatments for serious diseases. It has had great impact on preventing the disabling sequelae of many treatable conditions.
  I would support using our programme as a template for developing a national neonatal screening programme in the region,” said Dr. Ben-Omran. 
The Sidra Symposium Series is an on-going medical education programme designed to build understanding and awareness of clinical research and best practice in the areas of women s and children s health. (qna)