The Policy Framework for Prenatal and Neonatal Screening provides an overview of the legal and policy-related frameworks for five preventive screening programmes available during pregnancy and immediately following childbirth. These frameworks have been defined by the Dutch Ministry for Public Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). There are three screening tests for the unborn child: for Down's, Edwards' and Patau's syndromes , for a number of infectious diseases, including HIV, and for physical abnormalities. The neonatal screening tests concern the child's hearing and the neonatal heel prick.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has been responsible for national population screening programmes since 2006 and in that role monitors the quality, accessibility and affordability of them. The policy framework is an instrument that enables RIVM to perform its supervisory tasks, while responsibility for the conduct of screening programmes lies with the operational organisations.
The policy framework also sets out the parameters for collaboration between parties involved in the preparation of, decision-making on and conduct of antenatal and neonatal screening, the reason being that adequate alignment of all logistical and substantive processes is key to ensure that the quality of screenings is up to par. In particular, the transition from population screening to further diagnostic tests (medical examinations if indicated) and treatment is a key step for which the parties within the population screening programme and the care chain bear joint responsibility.
In addition, the framework sets out relevant requirements for the elaboration of screening plans. The main focus of these plans is on the way in which screenings are conducted.
The policy framework is checked annually to confirm it is up to date and amended if necessary.