Published in The News here, 14th Feb. 2010.
THERE are over 150,000 thalassemia major cases in Pakistan and the number is growing.
“If two thalassemia minor carriers got married then their children could be born with thalassemia major. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to conduct compulsory blood screening before marriage as one of the basic preventive care,” said Ammara Farooq Malik, President of an NGO, Seeds of Education, Policy & Legal Awareness Association (SEPLAA), while addressing the participants at the launching of a Youth Council and website (www.seplaa.com) to create awareness about SEPLAA’s drive “Save a life, save a generation” at its head office in DHA, Lahore, on Saturday.
Ammara Malik proposed to the government that every person should be tested at least once for thalassemia traits and this information could be put on their identity cards along with their blood type.
She said that camps for diagnosis of thalassemia would be set up in institutions to identify thalassemia minor carriers. She said that Italy and Greece had some of the highest number of cases of thalassemia and those countries had learnt to take care of the problem at the roots by educating their people that thalassemia could be prevented by taking the responsible action of blood testing before getting married. “We need to create awareness about the importance of premarital blood screening to remove the stigma of ‘shame’ or a ‘social taboo’ attached with this practice.
Earlier, a video clip of an 11-year-old thalessemic girl Kiran Ashfaq, who died after the failure of her bone marrow transplant, was also shown to highlight the gravity of the issue.
Besides, Hassan Awais Wyne, Zahra Wyne, Saman Jaffer, Jaffer Mateen, Khurram Zafar and other members and volunteers were also present.