ISLAMABAD - Parliamentarians efforts to introduce a bill for making blood test compulsory before marriage to detect genetic and sexually transmitted diseases finally bore fruit, as after lapse of two years the Bill titled Pre-Marital Compulsory Blood Testing was tabled before the National Assembly on Tuesday. Earlier, the proposed legislation was turned down on the pretext of resource crunch needed to implement such a law. The Bill is a brainchild of the MNAs Yasmeen Rehman, Azra Fazal Pechuho and Nafisa Shah. Luckily, the Bill got a nod from the Lower House of the Parliament and it was referred to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Health for further discussion. Under the Bill, it is proposed that the blood tests should be carried out free of charge by the stat-run hospitals including district, provincial and federal hospitals. In case the tests being positive, the family counselling will be provided to the both parties by a doctor of a state-run hospital. It was need of the time to come with a law to make blood test compulsory for both the bride and bridegroom before tying the knot, said MNA Yasmeen Rehman while talking to TheNation. The Bill was moved while keeping in mind the fact that the number of hereditary and sexually transmittable diseases such as the HIV and AIDS, hepatitis B, C are on the rise and which can be prevented and controlled by this initiative, she maintained. She was of the view that pre-marital blood test was a protective measure to ensure a healthy marriage and life. By undergoing a blood test before marriage, the issues can be detected before marriage and it can minimise the risk of genetic disorders. Although earlier the Bill was rejected, however, the parliamentarians kept pursuing it and managed to move it before the National Assembly, she noted. According to health experts, the initiative was a need of the hour, as the cases of the HIV& AIDS and hepatitis have been witnessed in Pakistan. According to Dr Sharreef Astori, in charge of the Blood Bank at the Federal Government Services Hospital (FGSH) the genetic transmission of diseases such as Thalassemia, a common blood disease in Pakistan (prevalence rate 3.8%), resulting of a marriage of two people who carry Thalassemia. A pre-marriage blood test is importance to detect the gene of Thalasemia minor in the bride and bridegroom to make them aware of the risk posed to their health and their offspring, he continued. The HIV a disease, which is a sexually transmitted, is not currently a dominant epidemic in Pakistan but still the number of cases is growing, he further added. Whereas hepatitis B and C are also blood-borne diseases and according to a rough estimate around 10 million people in Pakistan have hepatitis. The current estimated prevalence of hepatitis B and C is 3-4 percent (7.5 million infections). He opined that such an initiative should be taken immediately as it can help keeping control over all these diseases without spending much money. It is worth mentioning here that the National AIDS Programmers latest statistics show that over 4,000 HIV cases have so far been reported since 1986, but the UN and the Governments estimates put the number of HIV/AIDS cases around 80,000 ranging from lowest estimate 46,000 to highest estimate 210,000.