Senior endocrinologist Prof. Jamal Raza here on Tuesday called for mandatory screening of newborn across the country for timely diagnosis of hypothyroidism, one of the most common endocrinopathy in childhood and preventable cause of mental retardation. Addressing a session held to mark launching of the program in Sindh, he said according to available estimates incidence of hypothyroidism in the country is around one in 1000 newborns and these children with delayed diagnosis and treatment present primarily with developmental delay thereby necessitating the urgent need for mandatory neonatal screening. Emphasizing the urgent need for making newborn screening mandatory for the children across the country, the pediatric endocrinologist said this could help prevent permanent brain damage and neurological dysfunction besides metabolic disorders. Further elaborating his stance the expert said thyroid hormones are essential for normal growth and brain development therefore it is not unusual to find that unrecognized hypothyroidism do lead to mental retardation. He reiterated that identification of affected kids by newborn screening and timely therapy can help control cognitive development adding that as per legislation done in the province denial on part of guardians and parents advised by qualified doctors to help ensure screening of their children could be liable to punishment. Sindh Minister for Health, Dr. Azra Pechuho chairing the session said efforts are being made to motivate parents to realize the importance of quality life and existence of their children hence all stakeholders are being taken on board to create public demand for newborn screening. “This holds equally true for our immunization programs and we do expect communities across the country to get actively involved in immunization of children against a series of vaccine preventable diseases,” she said. Dr. Pechuho in reply to a query said a surge in the incidence of measles has been reported in different parts of the province which can be partly attributed to COVID-19 induced situation and partly to certain negligence on part of vaccinators. “There can absolutely be no excuse,” she said mentioning that steps are being taken to address the situation with the hope that parents, guardians and other relevant influential sections would play their due role to ensure optimum vaccination of kids not only for measles but for all diseases covered under Expanded Program of Immunization. “These are free of cost and we rightly do expect parents to take advantage of the facility,” said the health minister mentioning that children diagnosed with hypothyroidism are also being provided free of cost medicine, which happens to be thyroxine. “Adequate steps are being taken to ensure that administration of medication, which itself is very cost effective, is done with due and supervised care,” said Dr.Pechuho.