ISLAMABAD - Like other parts of the country, the International Thalassaemia Day was observed in Islamabad on Thursday. Pakistan Thalassaemia Welfare Society arranged a function and introduced a number of patients including Rumaisa Noor the Society had them.

Wife of Saudi Ambassador, Al Jouhra Al-Areefi, was the chief guest at the occasion. She called for a collective effort for eradicating the disease from Pakistan to make country thalassaemia free. She awarded shields to guest speakers and donated half a million rupees for the society.

"I was diagnosed with thalassaemia major at an age I can't recount. Initially confronted with difficulties, I got used to the way of treatment gradually. Blood transfusions are treating my thalassaemia but transmitted hepatitis and diabetes to my body", shared Rumaisa Noor, a patient of thalassaemia.

Noor is one out of many who suffered different diseases that were transmitted through blood transfusions of improperly screened blood. The courageous Noor, an adept artisan, did bachelors in textile and is living a normal life after getting the diabetes and hepatitis treated.

She put her dexterities (handicrafts) on display at an occasion where Pakistan Thalassaemia Welfare Society, Rawalpindi celebrated the International Thalassaemia Day with a crowd of thalassaemic patients and their families on Thursday. Eminent thalassaemia experts and other guests were also present at the occasion.

Lt Gen (R) Fahim Ahmad Khan, CEO and founder of the society while addressing the audience said, "Starting with a few patients and a small space currently society has 3,000 registered patients. The society, a pioneer in the field of treatment and prevention of thalassaemia, is providing services on several fronts including treatment, prevention, research and rehabilitation facilities."

President Pakistan Green Task Force Dr Jamal Nasir, Lt Gen (r) Kamal Akbar, Dr Abdul Qayum Awan, Prof Dr Tahira Zafar, Maj Gen (r) Masood Anwar, Maj Gen (r) Suhaib Ahmed Khan were guests of honour on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Jamal stressed that it is need of the hour to make country free from the disease by creating awareness among general public about prevention. Countries like Greece, Cyprus and Italy have overcome the disease by creating awareness and adopting precausionary measures.

Prof. Dr. Tahira Zafar, a consultant hematologist said, "this disease is close to my heart. Children become dependent on blood transfusions. In Pakistan eight per cent of population are carriers of thalassaemia. And, the 80 per cent patients of thalassaemia are born to carriers from poor socio-economic backgrounds."

Blood transfusions cause iron deposits in different parts of body leading to iron over load that is another issue. She said on treatment front figures are good but on preventive front these are unsatisfactory. She emphasized to focus on preventive aspect and raising awareness with a joint approach by community, parents, society, NGOs and media.

A group of thalassaemia patients performed on a song (Taaray Zameen Pe) while holding placards with different slogans as Thalassaemia Free Pakistan, Equal Chance to Life, War Against Thalassemia and Donate Blood and Save Life.