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Maternal and childcare ROP programme in Argentina

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) blindness can be avoided by interventions which reduce preterm birth, high quality neonatal care, and by early detection and laser treatment. The maternal and child care programme at the Ministry of Health of Argentina created a multidisciplinary ROP Collaborating Group in 2003 composed of neonatologists, nurses, ophthalmologists and professional associations to increase their participation in  implementing policies to improve service delivery at the neonatal intensive care units (NICU).1 As a result of their leadership and advocacy efforts, by 2016 the government was supporting the cost of screening and treatment, had legislation mandating the eye examination of preterm infants, produced an annual report of the ROP monitoring system (issued by the Ministry of Health since 2004)2 and updated the national clinical guidelines using the GRADE method.3 The ROP programme in Argentina is one of two in South America that covers all national districts, 114 neonatal intensive care units, comprising most of the government sector.4

From 2004 to 2016, the mean birth weight of newborns with any ROP decreased by 200 grams (g) and the average gestational age reduced by 3 weeks. In addition, the proportion of babies treated for ROP with birth weight >1500 g or gestational age >32 weeks progressively declined from 30% to 17 % (44/253) in 2016.5

The ROP programme in Argentina is an example of a successful integrated eye care initiative lead by the maternal and child health programme at the Ministry of Health that has been effectively embedded within the health and legal systems.1 Preterm children receive a continuum of care interventions covering promotion, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation because of a coordination across the different levels and sites of care.

  1. Hariharan L, Gilbert CE, Quinn GE, et al. Reducing Blindness from Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) in Argentina Through Collaboration, Advocacy and Policy Implementation. Health Policy Plan 2018; 33(5): 654-65.
  2. Arnesen L, Durán P, Silva J, Brumana L. A multi-country, cross-sectional observational study of retinopathy of prematurity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rev Panam Salud Publica 2016; 39(6): 322-9.
  3. Ministerio de Salud de Argentina, Grupo ROP. Guía de Práctica Clínica para la prevención, diagnóstico y tratamiento de la Retinopatía del Prematuro (ROP). Buenos Aires; 2016.
  4. Silva JC, Zin A, Gilbert C. Retinopathy of prematurity prevention, screening and treatment programmes: Progress in South America. Semin Perinatol 2019; 43(6): 348-51.
  5. Alda E, Lomuto CC, Benítez AM, et al. Results of the National Program for the Prevention of Blindness in Childhood by Retinopathy of Prematurity in Argentina (2004-2016). Arch Argent Pediatr 2018; 116(6): 386-93.