Islamabad - Pakistan is still witnessing an unchecked rise in Thalassaemic Population due to lack of any nationally coordinated effort to control and prevent thalassemia.

Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar speaking at an event held here at Islamabad Club to observe Thalassemia Day said that KP, Sindh and Punjab have passed laws on thalassemia prevention, proposing compulsory screening of couples before marriage but Pakistan is still witnessing an unchecked rise in thalassaemic population due to lack of any nationally coordinated effort to control and prevent thalassaemia.

She said ministry of national health services is working on developing a national thalassaemia policy to determine the best approach, strategy and plan to control and eradicate thalassaemia in Pakistan. She said the Safe Blood Transfusion Programme has initiated consultations with the Thalassemia Federation of Pakistan to jointly lead the national effort in this regard since Thalassaemics consume almost 30% of the total blood donations in Pakistan.

She further said to benefit from successful regional experience of eradicating thalassaemia, the Ministry is also coordinating with Thalassaemia International Federation and WHO and seeking their technical assistance to conduct a rapid situation analysis and facilitate a national consultation for the formulation of a National Policy and Strategic Framework on Thalassaemia prevention and management.

The minister said Thalassemia is a preventable hereditary genetic disorder. “If two thalassaemia carriers get married then in every pregnancy there are 25% chances that the child will be Thalassaemia Major, while she was addressing on the occasion of World Thalassaemia day”.  

She said thalassemia major patients require life-long blood transfusions at 3-4 weeks interval. Only permanent cure is bone marrow transplant. There are estimated 10 million thalassemia carriers in Pakistan, estimated 100,000 thalassemia major patients, 6000 new cases of Thalassaemia Major are added every year and 22,000 thalassemia major patients are registered with private and public sector Thalassemia centres in the country who receive partial or proper treatment.

Saira Afzal said that the federal government has established a thalassaemia centre at PIMS which has registered 2,000 thalassemia major patients. Blood transfusions without replacement are provided to 40 patients every day in PIMS and facility for free bone marrow transplantation is also offered there.