KARACHI: If a hereditary disease such as thalassemia needs to be prevented, it is essential to carry out a thalassemia test before inter-family marriages.
This was stated by Health Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho at a seminar, ‘Thalassemia, a Genetic Disorder’, organised by Sir Syed College of Medical Sciences (SSCMS), National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD), Pakistan Paediatric Association and Express Media Group in Karachi. The seminar shed light on thalassemia and its preventative measures.
Pechuho said a test can be conducted during pregnancy to find out if an unborn child has the disease or not. If the disease is present, then with the mutual agreement of the parents, an abortion can be carried out, he said.
In this regard, a religious edict has also been made by religious scholars and they will be able to shed more light on it, said Pechuho, who said that around a 100 people donate blood to a thalassemia patient and 70 donors have blood that is transferable.
A clean laboratory is essential for this purpose, he said, adding that a bone marrow transplant is an expensive procedure for which all efforts are being made to reduce the disease, if not eradicate it.
Omair Sana Foundation Head Saqib Ansari said thalassemia is a hereditary disease, which is transferred from the parents to the children through the genes. He said that the disease has two forms – thalassemia minor and thalassemia major.
If both the bad genes transfer to the child from the parents, the child will suffer from thalassemia major, said Ansari. However, if one bad gene is transferred to the child, the child will suffer from thalassemia minor and will be a carrier, he said, adding that If a carrier male and carrier female were to procreate, the chances of their child suffering from thalassemia major is 25%, while there would be a 50% chance that the child will inherit thalassemia minor. Therefore, Ansari urged all young women and men to get tested for thalassemia before marriage.
Commending the health department for its efforts, Ansari said that although patients are provided medicines for iron deficiency at Civil hospital, the government has yet to play its due role.
NIBD Medical Director Tahir Hashmi revealed that women were not responsible for giving birth to a child with thalassemia but if the man has either form of thalassemia, the child will definitely suffer from thalassemia.
Hashmi urged the need for screening blood, explaining that more than 10,000 children in Karachi and around 100,000 children in Pakistan suffer from thalassemia.
The seminar was attended by Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority Secretary Dr Zahid Ansari, SSCMS Paediatric Department Head Prof Iqbal, Mufti Syed Bilal, Maulana Hafiz Wazir, Muhammad Tahir, Muhammad Qadri, Express Media Group Marketing and Sales Executive Director Azfar Nizami and Express Media Group marketing and sales associate director.
Children suffering from thalassemia, their parents and people from different departments also attended the seminar.
At the end of the seminar, there was a question and answer session and shields were distributed among the guests.
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