MANILA -- The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to establish a National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) for kindergarten pupils to identify early childhood vision problems.

With 187 affirmative votes, members of the Lower House passed House Bill 3222, which seeks to create the NVSP primarily intended to screen the eye vision of kindergarten pupils.

The Department of Education (DepEd) will serve as the lead implementing agency of the program.

The bill provides for the creation of the Vision Screening Continuing Research Fund (VSCF) through donations to Department of Education (DepEd) or the Department of Health (DOH). The VSCF shall be subject to existing budgeting, accounting, and auditing rules and regulations.

The bill provides tax incentives to donors of the NVSP and VSCF. It further requires a budgetary allocation for the NVSP in the budgets of DepEd and DOH in the annual General Appropriations Act.

According to Data from the Philippine Eye Research Institute, more than 10 percent of young Filipino children have visual acuity problems, higher than the 5 to 10 percent of the United States and Europe.

The Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology stressed that poor vision could impair the performance of the child in school and his or her interactions with the community. (PNA)