.Thalassaemia is an inherited blood condition whereby normal hemoglobin levels are difficult to maintain. This is because the bone marrow is unable to form a healthy amount of red blood cells that are required by the body. Beta thalassaemia is one of the most common disorders in Pakistan that affects children. According to the Express Tribune, nearly 5000 children are diagnosed with thalassaemia every year. This shows that thalassaemia cases in Pakistan have been on the rise, making it imperative to raise awareness about preventive measures.
Thalassemia is a genetically transmitted blood disease which passes on from parents to children. According to Prof Dr Yasmin Rashid, secretary-general of Thalassamia Federation of Pakistan (TFP), 6 out of every 100 Pakistanis are affected by this disorder. Additionally, she says that there is a 25% chance of a child being affected if the parents are both carriers of the gene. This is most common in inter-family marriages and in parts where there is little or no awareness about the disease. Moreover, it requires regular blood transfusions every 3 to 8 weeks in order to regulate hemoglobin levels.
Thalassemia is a fairly expensive disease to treat. Every year, about 100,000 Pakistanis are affected by it, and the numbers keep on increasing. Since the patients often fall under the lower income group category. Thalassemia poses huge financial threats and psychological stresses on them. Furthermore, the regular blood transfusions cause problems of their own. Since blood is needed from external sources, patients are exposed to numerous blood infections, such as hepatits B, HIV and malaria.
Blood Transfusion Procedure
A bone marrow transplant is the most desirable treatment for curing thalassemia. This is because a successful one might be the only treatment required. However, the chances of success are slim since an exact bone marrow is required from within the siblings. The other option is weekly or monthly blood transfusions. This process is made even more difficult for patients since repeated transfusions cause excess iron to get accumulated in the body. Due to this, an injection is given through a chelatin pump, which is a painful procedure that can take up to 8 hours.
One of the biggest problems of blood transfusion for thalassemics is the risk of catching infections. The presence of hepatitis B, HIV and malaria have been disturbing developments in recent years. Therefore, there is a major need to regulate policies regarding blood banks. A firm check needs to be kept on the blood that is gathered there. This requires for the screening kits to be checked, administered and validated by credible sources. Furthermore, cost effective treatment methods need to be implemented, which can only happen once there is ample awareness regarding the disease.
Those who are devoid of treatment suffer the brutal consequences, often losing their lives in the process. Therefore, it is imperative that the disease be taken seriously. It is one of the leading medical issues that Pakistan currently faces, and needs to address.