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PHIC urges parents to avail of enhanced benefits for newborns

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) in Bicol encouraged parents of newborn babies to avail of the enhance benefits after it recently expanded its coverage of essential health services for newborns to enable early detection and management of more congenital disorders which may lead to mental retardation and even death if left untreated. Orlando Iñigo Jr., Philhealth regional vice president, in an interview on Monday said: "We recognize the importance of providing essential care to newborns during one of the most crucial phases of life." "It is important that active members of Philhealth must avail of the package in order to provide newborns with the needed services." Inigo added. The state health insurer introduced the enhanced Newborn Care Package, increasing the amount of coverage from P1,750 to P2,950 which pays for supplies for essential newborn care such as Vitamin K, eye ointment, vaccines for hepatitis B and BCG; expanded Newborn Screening test; Newborn Hearing Screening Test; and fees for attending professionals. "We make it a point that members, those who are expecting to have children, are aware of these benefits,” he added. Philhealth regional office conducts information education campaigns on Benepisyong Philhealth para kay Nanay at Baby, organizing Buntis Congreesses and educating young parents thru U4U Trail for Teen Parents. The essential newborn care also includes immediate drying of the baby, early skin to skin contact, timely cord clamping, non-separation of mother/baby for early breastfeeding initiation, weighing of the baby, among others. The expanded newborn screening test will be able to detect endocrine, amino and fatty acid disorders; organic acid, urea cycle defect, cystic fibrosis, hemoglobinopathies, biotinidase deficiency, and other disorders. Newborn screening aims to detect at the earliest stage certain genetic and metabolic conditions that may lead to mental retardation or morbidity if left untreated. The screening was integrated into the public health delivery system with the enactment of Republic Act 9288 or the Newborn Screening Act of 2004. Iñigo encouraged non-members in the region to enrol in Philhealth and existing members to dutifully pay their premium contributions. In 2018 a total of 69,594 Newborn Care Package procedures were claimed.

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