Mrs. Asma al-Assad visits Thalassemia Centers in Nicosia


Nicosia, Cyprus- Mrs. Asma al-Assad, accompanied by the Cypriot First Lady Mrs. Elsie Christofias, visited on Friday the Handicraft Center in Nicosia, built with the aim of preserving and introducing the traditional culture of Cyprus.

Mrs. al-Assad and Mrs. Christofias toured the Center and were briefed by those in charge of the Center on its parts which include experimental workshops in the fields of embroidery, knitting and handwork in wood, metal and pottery, among other handicrafts.

There are also workshops for training those willing to learn the crafts.

The Handicraft Center in Nicosia is affiliated to the Cypriot Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism. Its products attract thousands of tourists annually from inside and outside Cyprus, given that handicrafts are based to a great extent on the traditional folkloric art of Cyprus.

Mrs. al-Assad, also accompanied by Mrs. Christofias, visited on Thursday the Thalassemia International Federation (TIF) headquarters and Thalassemia Center at Makarios Hospital in Nicosia, where she inspected Cyprus pioneering experience in combating this disease.

Cyprus has succeeded in stopping Thalassemia disease as no new cases have been recorded for 15 years now. This was accomplished in cooperation between the governmental parties in Cyprus and the civil society, together with the TIF through applying a policy of performing early detection and medical check ups and intensifying awareness raising programs.

By so doing, Cyprus has joined the other countries which rely on prevention as a certain way to stop the spread of the disease, since prevention costs much less than treatment, in addition to the fact that it contributes to preserving the health of the individuals, which enables them to better play their role in the national development programs.

During the visit, discussion revolved around the possibility of availing from the Cypriot experience in this regard and transferring it to the health sector in Syria, especially in terms of setting up an effective prevention program that contributes to stopping the appearance of new cases of the disease in Syria.

Cooperation may also include laying down the appropriate foundations for cooperation between the governmental parties and the civil organizations concerned in the health issue, in addition to exchanging experience and expertise about diagnosis and treatment methods and intensifying efforts in the field of early detection.

During their meeting with Mrs. al-Assad, TIF President Panos Englezos, TIF Executive Director Androulla Eleftheriou and the Cypriot Minister of Health Christos Patsalides expressed readiness to utilize the expertise they have to work with their Syrian counterparts with the aim of setting up a special prevention strategy for Syria to help in gradually reducing the number of thalassemia patients which reaches 7500 toward finally getting rid of the disease for good.

Syria is working to stop the increase of the number of Thalassemia patients through getting the policy of conducting pre-marriage medical tests applied all across Syria and constantly supporting the current patients, as well as further activating the programs aimed at raising awareness of the disease and its prevention mechanism.

It is also working to support the religious, social and civil parties and centers concerned in the issue.

There are two Thalassemia centers in Damascus and Aleppo and a Thalassemia unit in each of the Syrian provinces.

Work is now underway to establish a new center in Raqqa city to cover the eastern region specialized in detection and diagnosis through using the latest technologies based on molecular biology and detecting DNA mutations related to genetic blood diseases including Thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.

Syria has adopted pre-marriage medical checkups through performing hemoglobin test to make sure that the couples do not have Thalassemia.

By the beginning of 2011, a survey will be launched for pre-marriage age categories to know about the number of thalassemia disease carriers.

The Thalassemia International Federation was established in 1986 with the aim of enhancing the national programs seeking for effective and productive prevention and providing appropriate care for Thalassemia patients across the world.

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