Thalassemia is one of the most common disorders that affects children in Pakistan. Over 5000 children are diagnosed with it every year. Additionally, the treatment is expensive, and many of the citizens are unable to pay for it. Therefore, coming up with cost effective solutions and preventive measures is essential towards treatment for thalassaemia in Pakistan.
Thalassemia is commonly treated by carrying out weekly or monthly blood tranfusions. It 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. Furthermore, it is is a genetically transmitted blood disease which passes on from parents to children. The process requires for repeated transfusions which cause excess iron to get accumulated in the body. Due to this, an injection is given through a chelatin pump. Other than that, a bone marrow transplant can be carried out, but it is often close to impossible. This is because an exact bone marrow is required from within the siblings, so the option is as good as non-existent.
Problems with Blood Transfusions
Blood transfusions have to be given weekly or monthly, often for as long as the patient lives. This can cause major psychological trauma to the the children who have to go through it. Furthermore, since repeated transfusions can cause excess iron to get accumulated in the body, an injection is given through a chelatin pump. This is another painful procedure that can take upto 8 hours at a time. Repeated injections and transfusions are a major financial burden on the unfortunate families dealing with the disorder. Due to this, many families are unable to afford the treatments. Additionally, the regular blood transfusions cause various health complications. Since blood is needed from external sources, patients are exposed to numerous blood infections, such as hepatits B, HIV and malaria.
Steps Taken for Prevention and Treatment
The Thalassemia Federation of Pakistan (TFP) is an NGO that has done a huge deal of work in order to fight thalassemia. the secretary-general of TFP, Prof Dr Yasmin Rashid, talks about the responsibilities that it carries. She says that its main purpose is to bring together various associations nationwide that work for the cause of fighting thalassemia. It provides a forum whereby experiences and information can be shared in order to help patients and cause awareness. This includes developing treatment methods and coming up with theories of cost effective practices to get rid of the disorder.
Secondly, the Punjab government recently initiated the Punjab Thalassemia Prevention Programme. This is a crucial step since raising awareness can cause prevention so that the disease does not occur, rather than finding treatment.
Moreover, the Government College University, Lahore also held an awareness walk to mark the significance of the International Thalssaemia Day. Such acts are important to let people know about the causes and effects of the disorder.
In conclusion, experts suggest that preventing inter-marriages is one of the main ways to prevent thalassemia. Since it is a genetically transmitted disease, there is a 25% chance of a child being affected if the parents are both carriers of the gene. Furthermore, treatment should be more accessible and affordable so that more people can benefit from it. Therefore, taking these steps is vital in order to reduce the socio-economic burden that the nation currently faces.