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Newborn bloodspot screening: setting the Australian national policy agenda

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To the Editor: Maxwell and O’Leary’s article1 and Wiltshire and Cameron’s letter2 provide insights into the current issues facing newborn bloodspot screening (NBS) in Australia. It is clear that we have world-class NBS programs, but there is a lack of national policy guidance agreed on by governments. It has been argued that this has affected the programs’ capacity to respond to the changing environment in which they operate.1,3,4 There is a need for clear national policies to support the programs’ continued success and growth, and a way to assess the benefits and harms of screening additional conditions through NBS.5 Since the aforementioned articles were published, there has been substantial progress towards achieving these goals.

Australian governments have recently agreed to develop a national policy framework for NBS. This will include a decision-making pathway, against which congenital adrenal hyperplasia and other conditions can be assessed for inclusion in NBS. The policy framework is being developed under the auspices of the Standing Committee on Screening, through a multidisciplinary working group. The project is due for completion by early 2016, and will be informed…