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Govt to bring law on premarital thalassaemia test: Dr Yasmin Rashid

By Our Correspondent
November 08, 2020

LAHORE: Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has announced that the bill on premarital thalassaemia tests will be passed to prevent spread of blood disease among the newborns.

“The treatment of thalassaemia through Bone Marrow Transplant is very expensive but we have never paid due attention to this disease in the past,” she said at the inaugural ceremony of 15th National Thalassaemia Conference and Workshop at Fatima Jinnah Medical University here on Saturday.

The National Thalassaemia Day will be all over the country on Sunday (today).

Dr Yasmin Rashid said thalassaemia is a priority health area for Punjab government and the government is already working on establishing treatment centres in all the district level hospitals of Punjab, while separate beds will be reserved for thalassaemia patients in Punjab.

Moreover, she said, thalassaemia is a preventable disease and ‘our hope lies in adopting a preventive programme on the line pursued by countries like Italy, Cyprus and Iran, which has resulted in either complete control or significant reduction in the births of new thalassaemia major children in these countries’.

“The Punjab government is going to bring in a law on mandatory premarital thalassaemia screening in the province,” she said, adding the government, under the leadership of Imran Khan, is committed to providing best medical services to people of the country.

Considering the gravity of the issue, the government took the lead and initiated Punjab Thalassaemia Prevention Project (PTPP), which is unique and can be compared with any other preventive programme of the world. The project is providing services totally free of cost in all the 36 districts of Punjab. The Thalassaemia Society of Pakistan is providing great services and all organisations working on the disease need to come together at one platform. Pakistan was the first Muslim country to perform thalassaemia genetic test in 1994. “We took thalassaemia children to K2 Mountain for the first time,” she added.

Responding to queries of journalists, the minister said that the condition of Ch Shujaat was improving as per latest reports. She said a team of senior doctors at Services Hospital is attending Ch Shujaat. She urged people to observe precautionary measures in the wake of second wave of Corona Pandemic.

Hussain Jafri, Secretary General Thalassaemia Federation of Pakistan, Punjab, presented the federation’s activities and said that thalassaemia is the commonest inherited disorder in Pakistan and over 6,000 affected children are born annually with thalassaemia major, meaning 17 affected children are born each day in Pakistan. These children require regular monthly blood transfusions and the treatment to just stay alive.

The Thalassaemia Federation of Pakistan also awarded Life Time Achievement Awards to three distinct health professionals, who have dedicated their lives for the cause of Thalassaemia. These included Dr Yasmin Rashid for initiating Thalassaemia prevention services in the country, Dr Javeria Mannan for the development of Thalassaemia treatment & management services and Maj-Gen (Retd) Dr Suhaib Ahmad for being the pioneer in the development of DNA testing for Thalassaemia in the country.

Earlier, Lt-Gen (R) Moin ud Din Haider, President Thalassaemia Federation of Pakistan, welcomed the conference participants.

FJWU Vice Chancellor Professor Amir Zaman Khan paid rich tribute to doctors serving for awareness, treatment and diagnosis of thalassaemia.