LAHORE - Like other parts of the globe, World Thalassaemia Day was observed across the country including Lahore on Friday to raise awareness about the genetic disease.

Seminars, walks and workshops were arranged both at the government and private levels to raise awareness about the hereditary disease and benefits of blood screening of young boys and girls before marriage. The day is dedicated to commemorate Thalassaemia patients and give them a special chance to live their lives as a normal person. This year theme was “Enhancing partnership towards patient-centred health systems: good health adds life to years!”

Thalassaemia is a genetic blood disorder in which children cannot make enough Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and needs to be supplemented with RBC transfusions every 2-3 weeks to stay healthy and to survive.

CM MESSAGE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said that the problem caused by Thalassaemia to the patient and his family are very serious and there is a need to pay special attention to these patients.

Shahbaz Sharif said that the disease is a very painful and there is a need to resolve on this day that efforts will continue to be made to make Pakistan thalassaemia free country.

Addressing a seminar at Fatima Jinnah Medical College, Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq said that Thalassemia Prevention Programme was successfully running in Punjab. The government would provide all resources for extending scope of this programme to all the districts during next fiscal year, he said.

FJMC Principal Prof Fakhar Imam, Project Director Thalesemia Prevention Programme Prof Shamsa Humayon, Director General Punjab Information Technology Board Rizwan Rasheed, former principals of the college, teachers and nurses were present on the occasion.

Principal Fakhar Imam said that children suffering from Thalassaemia could ask why they suffer from this disease. He said that due to some care and blood test of girl and boy before marriage could save coming generations from inherited diseases.

Project Director Prof Shamsa Humayun said that Punjab is the only province where serious efforts have been made for checking thalassaemia. She said that there were 50,000 registered patients of thalassaemia in Pakistan while 10 million were carrier. She said that this programme was running in 22 districts of the province and screening of 29,359 members of 1,421 thalassaemia families had been completed.

She further said that with the cooperation of PTIB, work has been carried out on thalassemia helpline, thalassaemia tracking system, thalassaemia webpage and thalassaemia Facebook. She said that regional centres have been set up at Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan and Bahawalpur with facilities of blood test, gene consultation, diagnosis before birth, test before marriage and DNA lab.

Kh Salman Rafiq said that government was implementing a special programme of checking all diseases including thalassaemia as without preventing diseases, all resources could become short for treatment of patients. He said that no person could feel the pain and problem of parents whose children are suffering from this disease.

 He said that cooperation of PITB for the success of thalassaemia prevention programme and monitoring system was commendable. He said that strict monitoring was required for running any programme for which help could be sought from Information Technology.

Speaking at a function at Children Library Complex, Minister for Women Development Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din urged welfare organisation to play due role of raising awareness. President Thalassaemia Society of Pakistan Dr Javeria Manan, Chief Coordinator Abdul Munem Khan, office-bearers, children suffering from the disease and their parents were also present.

Hameeda Waheed-ud-Din said that she was pleased to meet the patients fighting the disease with courage. She also appreciated the efforts being made by Thalassemia Society of Pakistan.

Dr Javeria Manan, Abdul Munem Khan threw light on the aims and objectives of the Society. Later, the minister gave away prizes to the patients who presented a variety of programme in the function.

An awareness walk was also held on the campus of the Government College University under auspices of its Blood Donation Society (BDS).

VC Prof Dr Khaleeq-ur-Rahman led the walk, while eminent journalist Sohail Warriach, Registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Akhyar Farrukh, Director Intermediate Studies Dr Saqib Iqbal, BDS Adviser Dr Babar Naseem Aasi and a large number of faculty members and students participated in the awareness walk.

The students carried banners and placards inscribed with slogans regarding thalassemia awareness.