PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has enacted a law allocating P10 million for the implementation of a national vision screening program (NVSP) aimed at helping screen kindergarten pupils for visual problems.
Republic Act (RA) 11357 or the National Vision Act, signed by Duterte on Wednesday, July 31, mandates the conduct of a simple vision screening test on kindergarten pupils through trained teachers and health personnel to identify children with possible visual problems.
"Pursuant to Article 2, Section 15 of the 1987 Constitution, it is hereby declared the policy of the State to protect qnd promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them," the law reads.
"In line with this policy, the State shall endeavor to promote every Filipino's full potential through good vision by creating ways and means to address vision problems, including blindness, among children," it adds.
RA 11357 intends to identify early childhood visual problems and provide immediate attention to visually-impaired kindergarten pupils.
It also seeks the creation of a referral system for the children's check-up and treatment by eye care practitioners, as well as the development of a vision screening results database for all kindergarten pupils.
The law also directs the conduct of continuing research on the state of visual impairment among kindergarten pupils.
It also instructs the Department of Education (DepEd), in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI), to use a Vision Screening Kit for pupils, which include charts with symbols or numbers, occludersx and transparent response key.
The DOH and PERI may also recommend the adoption of new methods of vision screening based on the latest trends and developments.
Private schools are encouraged to adopt their own system of vision screening for kindergarten pupils enrolled in their respective schools, subject to standards under the NVSP.
The PERI is mainly responsible for the training of vision screening trainers for purposes of quality assurance.
Under the law, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation is directed to develop a benefit package for the consultation and treatment of eye diseases fo children.
"The amount of P10 million shall be included in the budget of the PERI of the University of the Philippines - Manila to cover the implementation of this Act for publicc kindergarten pupils," RA 11357 said.
"However, the kindergarten pupils enrolled in private schools, the funding for the implementation of their respective school's vision screening program shall be assumed by the private schools concerned," it added.
RA 11357 will take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper.
Palace released a copy of the law on Friday, August 2. (SunStar Philippines)