Courtesy by: bi-me.com
UAE Genetic Disease Association (UAEGDA), the sole non-profit genetic organization in the UAE, has begun a month-long screening campaign to bring attention to the presence of thalassemia in the UAE following the commemoration of World Thalassemia Day earlier this month.
According to the Genetic and Thalassemia Centre in Dubai, one in 12 persons in the UAE is said to be a carrier of the disease.
The latest UAEGDA campaign is touring locations throughout the UAE with over 500 volunteers from various institutions assisting in the effort. Participants are working under the mission of educating the population about common genetic disorders (such as Thalassemia, Sickle Cell Anemia, G6PD Deficiency & Diabetes) and informing them about the free screening and counselling services provided by the UAEGDA. Different venues will be targeted throughout the month of May including Deira City Centre, 11 different Emarat and ADNOC fuel stations across the UAE, and various colleges and corporate houses.
Nearly 5,000 individuals were tested for the disease in the last year, according to UAEGDA officials, and an expansion of the group’s capacity has attracted partners throughout the country, including groups like the UAE Marriage Fund—a partner in UAEGDA’s current campaign.
The benefits of screening tests lay not only on an early detection of the disorder, but also preventing the birth of children born with thalassemia major. As in the case of all hereditary recessive diseases, there is a 25% chance for the child of thalassemia-carrier parents to become affected, another 50% chance of which will be carriers, while the rest go on seemingly unaffected.
“Thalassemia is a major public health issue in the UAE, which affects so many families at social, medical, financial and psychological levels,” says Dr. Maryam Matar, Founder & Chairman of UAEGDA. “Blood screenings campaigns in general are the best way to help reduce the presence of hereditary diseases in the country. Certain diseases like thalassemia and diabetes have especially high prevalence in the UAE, and this is the first step in identifying a problem that could extend for generations to come.”
A great deal of scientific data has in fact been documented to show trends of selected genetic disorders in UAE communities, and it is the mission of UAEGDA to make the country free from births of children born with thalassemia by 2012.