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May 5, 2019

Younis Khan says he would screen himself for Thalassemia for second marriage


Sun, May 05, 2019

KARACHI: Urging Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure compulsory screening of couples for Thalassaemia before marriage in Pakistan, legendary cricketer Younis Khan said he would definitely get himself screened for Thalassaemia if his first wife allows him to marry again.

"I'm a married man and when I got married, I didn't know about Thalassaemia screening. But if I decided to marry again with the permission of my wife, I would definitely get myself screened for this lethal disease", Younis Khan announced while speaking at a news conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Sunday.

The press conference was held in connection with International Thalassaemia Day 2019 which is observed on May 08 every year, by the Omair Sana Foundation (OSF) and it was addressed by eminent religious scholar Haji Hanif Tayyab, renowned Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) surgeon Dr. Tahir Shamsi, Secretary General Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, Secretary General OSF Dr. Saqib Ansari, sports anchor Yahya Hussaini and others.

Dozens of children suffering from Thalassaemia lit lamps along with Younis Khan and others at Karachi Press Club (KPC) and prayed for their recovery, elimination of Thalassemia from Pakistan and well being of the country.

Speaking at the news conference, Younis Khan said Prime Minister Imran Khan is dynamic person who believes in change, progress and development of the country and urged him to ensure implementation on the law that requires couples to be screened for Thalassaemia before marriage so that they know that they can give birth to children who would be suffering from an incurable, life-long disease.

"After my retirement, I went to the OSF treatment facility in Karachi and there I saw the sufferings of children with Thalassaemia and their parents. These children don't live long and remain dependent on donors' blood for rest of their lives. This should not be happening in Pakistan anymore", he added.

He maintained that people ask him to establish a welfare foundation and hospitals but he cannot sit idle till the establishment of foundation and my charity hospitals. "I'm now associated with OSF for last 10 years now and would continue my spreading awareness about preventable diseases", he maintained.

Other experts including physicians, Ulema and social workers also urged the authorities to implement the Sindh Prevention and Control of Thalassaemia Act 2013 by ensuring that couples are screened for Thalassaemia minor before marriage in the province as well as rest of the country as hundreds of new cases of genetic blood disorder are being reported at the hospitals in Karachi alone.

They said Thalassaemia is a preventable disease if a couple, who are going to marry, get themselves screened for Thalassaemia minor, and added that many countries of the world including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Itlay, Cyprus eradicated this disease by screening their population. At the same time, government should

"As many as 2.7 million blood bags are required in Pakistan every year and 60 percent of this blood is transfused to children suffering from Thalassaemia alone", said Prof. Dr. Tahir Shamsi, an eminent BMT Surgeon and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD).

Prof. Shamsi maintained that around 15 billion rupees are spent annually by over 100 private welfare organizations on the treatment and interventions to save lives of thousands of children suffering from Thalassaemia and added that this is cost is borne by the Pakistani philanthropists, which could have saved and used on prevention of other diseases and educating the out of school children.

"At the same time, due to unscreened blood being transfused to these children, they are also contracting HIV/Aids, Hepatitis B and C diseases. Children with Thalassaemia are now living longer but a majority of them are living a miserable life due to acquired lethal infections", he deplored.

Prof. Shamsi said government should launch a mass screening campaign to ascertain the Thalassaemia status of children in Pakistan and it should be mentioned either on their B-forms or on their CNICs and added that awareness regarding Thalassaemia should be included in the school-level curricula.

PMA Secretary General Dr. Qaiser Sajjad said prevention was better than cure and billions of rupees could be saved by adopting preventing measures which include Thalassemia screening before marriage, provision of clean drinking water to the people to save them from 60 percent of ailments and imposing a ban on chewing tobacco and Paan, chalia to prevent oral cancer.

Eminent hematologist and Secretary General of OSF Dr. Saqib Ansari, sports anchor Yahya Hussaini, religious scholar Haji Hanif Tayyab and others also spoke.