Friday, May 17th, 2024

Union Health Secretary advocates mandatory testing for Thalassemia during pregnancy

On the occasion of International Thalassemia Day on 8th May, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stressed the importance of timely detection and prevention of Thalassemia.

Speaking to ANI, Union Health Secretary Apoorva Chandra said, “Timely detection and prevention are the most effective strategies to deal with thalassemia.”

Thalassemia is a hereditary blood disorder that causes the body to have less hemoglobin than normal.

“There are around 1 lakh thalassemia patients in the country, with around 10,000 new cases reported every year. There is an urgent need for proactive intervention with assistance in timely detection through screening,” he said.

“As I am told, we have already made it a part of it. Some states had requested for it and some states are already doing some trials with sickle cell for thalassemia this year. If this can be extended to other states, we can try to make it an essential part of RCH (reproductive child health),” said Apoorva Chandra.

He further said, “The best approach is prevention – that is, avoiding the birth of thalassemics and taking preventive steps. So, NHM (National Health Mission), under our RCH (Reproductive Child Health), is monitoring about 3 crore women who are giving birth to children every year, to see if we can make it a part of that strategy. We can make sure that we test their blood also. And come to a conclusion whether the child is likely to be born with Thalassemia and take some preventive steps. So, I think that’s the way forward, but otherwise, bone marrow transplantation as a treatment or transfusion as a care are both very difficult.

Speaking about Thalassemia, Dr. Anupam Sachdeva, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “Thalassemia is a genetic disorder which can be prevented by screening all the population. We can examine the patient and diagnose thalassemia symptoms with the help of a simple blood test so we can prevent the disease completely. We want the Sickle Cell Mission which was launched by the Government of India last year. Also, we should have a Thalassemia Mission also so that we can combine both the missions and make it Hemoglobinopathy Prevention Mission.

International Thalassemia Day is observed every 8 May to emphasize the importance of disease prevention, raise awareness, sensitize stakeholders, promote early detection and ensure quality care for people affected by thalassemia.

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