Pre-marriage Thalassaemia Test Necessary, Say Experts
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31 October 2010
"THE nine thalassaemia endemic states of country, including Himachal, need to ensure pre-marriage thalassaemia test for eradication of the disease." Endorsing the idea, clinical haematologist from Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, Dr Joseph John said the national as well as the states' health policies needed to focus on creating awareness about this disease that could be prevented and detected at pre-natal stage.
According to experts, if both parents are thalassaemic, the chances of their child carrying thalassaemia are very high. It is thus advised that people getting married should take a blood test and ensure that both partners are not carrying the thalassaemia trait. In case they do, right treatment can prevent the child from carrying the virus.
"We need to learn from Cyprus, which had high prevalence of thalassaemia earlier. With the government enacting a law for premarriage tests for thalassaemia and the Church taking an active role, the country is now thalassaemia free. Sardinia, too, has improved its status due to active awareness campaigns. The country is not reporting any new births with thalassaemia," said Dr Naveen Kakkar, another haematologist from CMC.
They were speaking during a workshop organised by the Umang Foundation for thalassaemic children at Shimla on Sunday. Patients and their parents from different parts of the state shared their problems with doctors.
Every year, nearly 12,000 children are born with thalassaemia in India. The patients survive on blood transfusion throughout their life and a majority of them require a transfusion every month.
"Though blood transfusion is the conventional method, allogenic stem cell transplant has emerged as a new hope for total cure of the disease. The success of transplant is, however, only 60 to 80 per cent. And its cost ranges from Rs 10 to 15 lakh. In north India, the facility is currently not available in the government sector," said Dr John.