Next Biosciences, offers FirstScreen – a newborn screening test done in collaboration with the School of Biochemistry at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North West University. The Scientists of the School of Biochemistry are well known for their expertise and many years of experience in the field of inborn errors of metabolism (IEM).
They have been involved in the IEM research field since the early 1970’s. The School of Biochemistry also has a formal relationship with the University of Amsterdam to assist in IEM diagnosis and research.
Next Biosciences’ role in developing FirstScreen with North-West University is to establish a newborn screening program that is widely available to the patients and doctors of South Africa.
The intentions are to:
- Educate parents on what newborn screening is and the benefits of it. This is done through information leaflets, informative videos and presentations at antenatal classes to prospective parents. Next Biosciences is establishing a team of nurses around the country to counsel new mums in –hospital on the benefits of newborn screening;
- Educating obstetricians and paediatricians on the availability and relevance of the newborn screening available to their patients;
- Offering the paediatricians a supportive service in resulting and follow-up of the newborn screening with their patients. This is especially so with cases of false positives where repeat tests need to be done and patients need to be counselled.
Since the inception of FirstScreen in March 2016, there has been a 50% increase in the amount of newborn screens done in South Africa.
As the cost of the test is R1200 and is only partially covered by medical schemes, this test can only be afforded by a select population in the private sector. With the increase in volume of tests done at North West University, the cost of the test will decrease over time.
There is no newborn screening done in the government sector at this time.
Currently, there is no policy in South Africa and subsequently no clinical guidelines as how to treat a newborn with a positive screening result. North-West University, in conjunction with an advisory panel of paediatricians, are writing up guidelines on the management of positive test results.
This is a much needed services in South Africa and Next Biosciences is committed to developing a sustainable and beneficial newborn screening program.
Please see the link to our short video to educate parents on newborn screening: