House ratifies national vision screening bill

Rodrigo Duterte

AWAITING President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature is the proposed National Vision Screening Program for Kindergarten pupils that was ratifed by the  House of Representatives in the  bicameral conference committee report on House Bill 3222 seeking to establish the  program.

The bill, principally authored by Deputy Speaker and Taguig City-Pateros Rep. Pia Cayetano declares that pursuant to Article II, Section 15 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is the policy of the State to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

A National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) shall hereby be established under the Department of Education (DepEd) which is primarily intended to screen the eye vision of kindergarten pupils.

Among the objectives of the NVSP are to conduct a simple vision screening test on kindergarten pupils through trained teachers and health personnel and identify pupils with possible visual problems;  to  identify early childhood visual problems;  to provide immediate attention to visually impaired kindergarten pupils and create a referral system so that they may be checked and treated by eye care practitioners; to develop a vision screening results database for all kindergarten pupils; and to conduct continuing research on the state of visual impairment among kindergarten pupils in the country.

The DepEd shall lead the implementation of the NVSP, in coordination with the Department of Health (DoH) and the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI), which is under the National Institutes of Health of the University of the Philippines.

The DoH and the PERI may recommend to adopt new modes of methods of vision screening based on the latest trends and developments. Moreover, the DepEd, in consultation with the DoH and PERI, develop a system of referral and corrective measures for kindergarten pupils who are suspected or diagnosed to have possible eye ailments.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) shall develop a benefit package for the consultation and treatment of eye diseases of children.

The vision screening database, containing the results of the screening per child and visual conditions diagnosed by the eye care practitioner and other data gathered, shall be shared by and among the DepEd, the DoH and the PERI and other concerned agencies of the government.

Among the co-author and conferees are Reps. Alfred Vargas (5th District, Quezon City), Estrellita Suansing(1st District, Nueva Ecija),  Ramon “Red” Durano VI (5th District, Cebu), Deputy Speaker and Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero, and former  Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles.