Alarming realities: Thalassaemia patients on the rise, say speakers

The Help International Welfare Trust plans a blood donor camp

Our Correspondent January 13, 2015
Help International Welfare Trust (HIWT) spokesperson Syed Hasnain Rizvi addresses a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday, January 13, 2014. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: There are around 100,000 thalassaemia patients in Pakistan and the number is likely to increase due to the high prevalence of marriages among blood relations.

This was stated by Help International Welfare Trust (HIWT) spokesperson Syed Hasnain Rizvi during a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Tuesday. The trust plans to organise the Blood Donor Expo - 2015 at Karachi Expo Centre on March 29. The organisers plan to generate 5,000 blood bags. Rizvi that 70 per cent of the blood will be donated to thalassaemia patients.

"The event is meant to create awareness [regarding thalassaemia] among general public, especially young people," said Rizvi. He added that visitors will be able to consult different specialists during the event.

According to Rizvi, there are around 10 million people in the country who are carriers of this disease. "But they are unaware of their situation."

He said that 5,000 to 6,000 children are born with the disease every year due to marriages among blood relations. "This is a critical situation as around 90 per cent of the general public is unaware of the [gravity of the] disease."

Criticising the role of the health department, Rizvi said that the law requiring tests before marriage has been made but is not being implemented.

According to HIWT vice-chairperson Abdul Rauf Tabani, being a carrier of thalassaemia does not mean you have the disease. He said that there are five to six per cent people in the total population of the country who are called minors as they are carriers of thalassaemia.

This means that if two minors procreate, the offspring will surely be a patient of thalassaemia. Hence, couples must go through the tests before a marriage is solemnised, he said. The speakers highlighted that the demand of blood donation is increasing while volunteer donors are not coming out to help.

They called upon the youngsters to participate in the blood donor camp so they can also meet the patients of thalassaemia.

A child with thalassaemia major cannot survive for more than 25 years, said Rizvi, adding that the parents and the child suffer a lot regularly. He said that his organisation is also contacting the provincial and federal governments to create awareness so that the number of increasing patients could be contained. "Turkey and Iran have overcome the disease," he said. "We can control it, too."

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2015.



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