Thalassaemia centre to be set up at Vehari

December 31, 2010

Courtesy : nation.com.pk

Punjab Health Department will establish Thalasemia Centre at Children Hospital Complex Vehari in collaboration with Plan Pakistan, an international NGO.

The Children Hospital Complex Vehari is a joint venture of Public-Private partnership, which was established by Plan Pakistan and Health Department’s efforts. The Hospital has now earmarked space for establishment of Thalassemia Canter as well.
Health Department will provide Human Resource, U-fone will supply equipments and one time medicine worth Rs 2 million and Plan Pakistan would cooperate for technical and skill enhancement of the human resource made available by the government. U-fone also donated furniture for this center.

Two trained nurses, two data management computer literate supervisor led by a lady doctor will maintain and manage database. Families with positive history of Thalasemia will be provided counselling regarding adverse effects of cousin marriage.
Nishter Medical College, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Multan will do sampling and later skilled staff in Children Hospital will be trained for this purpose.

National Institute of Biogenetic Engineering Faisalabad will be responsible for genetic analysis of the cases.
All treatment at the Thalasemia center would be provided free of cost.

The project is aimed to facilitate the treatment availability in a child friendly environment, encourages parents to make informed decisions and thus reduces the burden of disease and sufferings of the child and parents.


New centres for blood donation in 2011

December 31, 2010

Courtesy : Khaleejtimes.com

The Dubai Health Authority in collaboration with hospitals and health centres has announced the opening of new blood donation centres from early next year.

According to Dr Laila Al Shaer, Director, Dubai Centre, a number of new sites in each of the hospitals will be announced during the coming year.

In addition to this, a number of health centres will be launched, all with the latest equipment, resources and specialised staff needed to receive blood donors.

Dr Shaer said the move comes in response to the growing demand for blood and blood products.

Statistics show the annual number of blood units that have been made available during this year amounted to 28,430, including 12,864 units for Thalassemia Centre, and 14,103 units for hospitals (Rashid Hospital — 7,569 units, Dubai Hospital — 4,147 units and Al Wasl Hospital — 2,387 units). A total of 1,463 units of blood were provided to private hospitals.

The Director of the Dubai Centre for blood donation commended that the existence of such centres will allow community members the opportunity to participate in saving the lives of others and alleviating the suffering of patients while remaining involved in the provision of blood.

Dr Shaer said contribution to this project is to increase the inventory status of the blood by up to 20 per cent.

The role of the new centres will be complementary to blood donation campaigns being organised by the centre on a daily basis.


Bank staff donate 100 units of blood

December 31, 2010

Courtesy: timesofindia

A nationalized bank with a branch in the city organized a blood donation camp at its office in Sarabha Nagar where its employees donated 100 units to mark 100th foundation day on Tuesday. The employees also donated one-day salary to the Prime Ministers Relief Fund.

The camp was organized in association with an NGO ‘Salaam Zindagi Foundation’ working for thalassemic children in the city. The NGO has sponsored 61 such children and vows to support all the needy children with the disorder. Established by Sir Sorabji Pochkhanawala on December 21, 1911, Central Bank of India celebrated its 100th foundation day on December 21. All the staff members of the Ludhiana region paid obeisance to the founder.

President Kamal Khullar and Sarabha Nagar Traders Association general secretary Davinder Singh appreciated banks efforts and declared to hold a mega blood donation camp in the coming month so that maximum patients of thalassemia could the supported with blood.

Salaam Zindagi Foundation general secretary Anurag Kalhan thanked members and office-bearers of bank union who made all efforts and motivated the members.

The blood bank teams of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Deep Nursing Home were also present.


Jackie Shroff wants to direct short, social films

December 31, 2010

Courtesy : realbollywood.com

If at all actor Jackie Shroff turns director at any point, it might not be a typical Bollywood potboiler. He says he would rather make meaningful and short films to create awareness about diseases.

‘I want to make short films on thalassemia, AIDS, polio, leprosy…I want to do all those things,’ Jackie told IANS.

The actor, who will be seen in ‘Bhoot and Friends’, doesn’t think he would ever make a feature film thanks to his free-spirited and restless nature.

‘As far as a fullfledged film is concerned, till now I doubt I have the patience to hold the cast and crew together. I’m ittle flighty…my mind is that of a hippy,’ he added.


Thalassemia Free New Year!

December 20, 2010
Thalassemia Free New Year!!

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Scientists Map Entire DNA of Human Fetus

December 10, 2010

Courtesy: foxnews.com

Parents may soon be able to find out if their unborn child is prone to any inherited diseases, researchers said on Thursday, after developing a non-invasive technique to draw the entire gene map of the human fetus.

By analyzing a sample of the mother’s blood, which contains DNA from the fetus, scientists in Hong Kong and the United States were able to identify all the DNA strands that belong to the child and piece them together.

“Before this work, people only could look for one disease at one time but now you can construct a screen for a number of diseases which are prevalent in any particular population,” said lead author Dennis Lo, professor of medicine from the Chinese University in Hong Kong.

The research team’s breakthrough was discovering that the mother’s plasma holds the entire fetal genome. Previously, only part of the baby’s DNA was thought to be in the mother’s blood.

“Now that we know (the) entire fetal genome is in there, you can look for any disease that is genetically inherited.”

The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Thursday, recruited a couple undergoing prenatal diagnosis for a hereditary blood disorder, beta-thalassemia.
“In the mother’s blood, 90 percent of the DNA is her own … and 10 percent is the baby’s. Half of the fetal genome is from father and half from mother,” Lo said.

Lo described the process as akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle with millions of pieces — only in this case, 10 times as many pieces from a much larger jigsaw were mixed in with it too.

“The whole genome is fragmented into millions of pieces and by this exercise, we assemble it back,” Lo said.
“It’s like assembling a jigsaw puzzle with millions of pieces. But to make it more challenging, you mix in 10 times (the number of pieces) from another jigsaw puzzle, that’s the mother’s own DNA. And you are trying to assemble the child’s.”

Experts who were not involved in the study called for caution.

“It is too early to apply the technology widely as we are not yet able to interpret many of the results that can be generated accurately,” said Christine Patch, chair of the British Society for Human Genetics. “We do not randomly test pregnancies for a long list of … conditions that may only manifest in adult life on the basis that individuals may not want to know that information when they are older.”


Cells that can save a life

December 10, 2010

Courtesy: health.asia.one

Life can sometimes deal kids and their parents a tough blow. But if there’s a choice between certain death or the chance of leading of a normal life, even if that means going though a complicated and extremely expensive transplantation process, then there’s little doubt about the option most will select – provided, of course, that the obstacles are removed.

“Many of my young patients simply wish to go to school,” says Dr Suradej Hongeng, associate professor with the Paediatric Hematology Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant service at Ramathibodi Hospital

“The blood stem cell transplant is best way and the most efficient treatment to completely cure diseases related to blood cell irregularities including aplastic anaemia, thalassemia, acute and chronic leukaemia, lymphoma cancer, and primary immunodeficiency,” he says.

Patients who have matched blood stem cell will go through procedures to restore stem cells that have been destroyed by high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

“Without healthy bone marrow, the patient is no longer able to make the blood cells needed to carry oxygen, fight infection, and prevent bleeding. The successful stem cell transplantation can restore the bone marrow’s ability to produce the blood cells the patient needs. The overall procedure takes about two months for the patient to once again live a normal life. However, the cost of treatment is as high as Bt1 million for one patient,” Dr Suradej continues.

Thailand has a large number of patients suffering from diseases caused by blood cell irregularities, genetic disorders and diseases such as blood cell cancer and lymph gland cancer and in particular thalassemia, which affects as many of 600,000 to one million Thais. At least 20 million – 40 per cent of the population – are carriers of at least one of the abnormal genes and every year, 12 out of 1,000 infants is born with thalassemia.

For poorer Thais, stem cell transplants have always been out of reach. Now, some of them will be getting a helping hand thanks to Ramathibodi Foundation under the royal patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, which recently launched the stem cell transplantation project in honour of Their Majesties the King and the Queen to mark the auspicious occasion of His Majesty the King’s seventh cycle birthday anniversary on December 5, 2011 as well as Her Majesty the Queen’s 80th birthday anniversary on August 12, 2012.

Professor Saengsuree Jootar, director of the project, says that the main purpose is to help those patients with financial problems. Initially, 100 possible patients who have matched blood stem cells will be treated under the project. Some are patients of Ramathibodi Hospital while others are receiving treatment at other hospitals. Yet others are patients under the royal patronage.”

In case of the Surakriangsaks family, seven-year-Pisitpong, was diagnosed with thalassemia when he just 12 months old. His parents were told back then that the only cure was a stem cell transplant. “I felt like my heart would break every time I saw my baby receive a blood transfusion. We seemed to spend so much time at the hospital,” says Pisitpong’s mother.

“Then doctors encouraged us to have a second child. It is the best to transplanted stem cells that match the recipient’s own stem cells as closely as possible. I prayed so hard for a baby with matched stem cell. Two years later Supasek was born and we were so lucky. He saved his brother life.” The family joined the foundation prior to the launch of the bone marrow transplantation project initiated in honour of HM the Queen’s 72nd Birthday.

“I believe every body loves life. They want to be cured and live normally,” says Dr Suradej. “When I was a medical student, many patients died as we could do nothing to save them. If a person has leukaemia, of course it depends on their condition, but at the maximum they have about six months to live. Today, we have the treatment to save them but it is still very expensive. With the last project we saved 79 lives and spent Bt80 million. Raising Bt100 million this time is certainly not easy but I believe that when you wish for the sake of others, it will come true,” adds the doctor with a smile.

The use of stem cells in Thailand is quite controversial, not least because of the advertising campaign that claims they are a “magic medicine” curing everything from brain and heart disease to old age. Pregnant women have also become targets through campaigns encouraging them to bank the placenta and umbilical cord for future benefits.

Dr. Suradej explains that apart from treatments for diseases linked to blood cell irregularities, which have medical approval, stem cell usage is still the subject of medical research. “This is very much about medical ethics. The only party that benefits from stem cell storage, which costs a great deal, is the storage company. Even the American Academy of Paediatrics does not recommend it, because the chance of using it is very minimal. If you want to do something useful with your stem cells, I’d recommend donating them to the Thai Red Cross Society. That way the stem cell storage will be for the public benefit and more valuable for the purpose of saving lives.”


Chinese Study Suggests New Way to Test for Genetic Diseases

December 10, 2010

Courtesy: health.usnews.com

A new test that requires only a tiny sample of a mother’s blood to scan the genome of a fetus may offer a safer alternative to current methods of prenatal screening for genetic diseases, a new study suggests.

Currently, a sample of fetal tissue is collected using invasive procedures such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, both of which pose a small but definite risk to the fetus.

But, Chinese researchers found that fetal DNA floating in the mother’s blood contains the entire fetal genome and can reveal a number of genetic and chromosomal disorders in the fetus.

They used the method on a couple undergoing prenatal diagnosis for a type of genetic anemia called beta-thalassemia. The results showed that the fetus had inherited the beta-thalassemia mutation from the father and a normal gene from the mother, meaning the fetus was a carrier of the disease.

The study is published in the Dec. 8 issue of Science Translational Medicine.


World Aids Day: HIV/Aids screening to be made compulsory for all

December 2, 2010

Courtesy: dawn.com

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is considering legislation to make it binding on all people to undergo HIV/Aids test.

“The government will go for the legislation after which all people will be legally bound to undergo HIV/Aids screening. We have already made pre-marriage test of Thalassemia compulsory for the would-be couples,” said provincial minister for higher education Qazi Mohammad Asad on Wednesday.

Speaking as chief guest at a function held in connection with the World Aids Day at the Frontier Women’s College, the minister said that the legislation concerning compulsory screening before marriage was gaining social acceptability and with the passage of time more and more people would opt for such tests.

“Awareness is a shield against the deadly disease of HIV/Aids. We have to keep an eye on the immigrant workers who are being deported on account of having the disease,” he said and added that such people were the main cause of HIV/Aids spread in the country.

Mr Asad expressed his concern over the stoppage of funds for the HIV/Aids programme and said that it would further complicate the situation.

He expressed optimism that the government would provide funds to keep the programme activities going. He urged the students to get more information about the causative agents of the disease. On this occasion, the college students presented skits to highlight bad effects of the disease and ways to avoid it.

The minister said that the deported men were infecting their wives, who didn’t know about their health status.

“The only way to stem the tide of HIV/Aids is to put all those returning from abroad to compulsory screening at the airports. He said that though people hesitate to be subjected to HIV screening, there was no other way to stop the transmission of the disease.

Another function concerning HIV/Aids awareness was held at the Badhber camp where experts advised Afghan refugees to keep themselves limited to their wives.

“Afghan refugees living here frequently cross the border to their country due to which they are at the razor edge of the infections disease,” Dr Jawad Habib Khan of the Project Directorate of Health for Afghan told the audience.He also said that re-use of syringes, transfusion of unscreened blood and shaving at the barbers’ shops should be avoided to stay safe from the pandemic.

“There is an urgent need to tell people about the transmission of the disease, otherwise the HIV/Aids could snowball into major health problem in the country,” he said.Later a awareness walk was also held which passed through the Afghan refugee camp.

All Women Advancement and Resource Development, a local NGO, organised a camp near the Khyber Teaching Hospital where HIV/Aids-related literature was distributed among visitors. Maimoona Noor, head of the NGO, asked the government to provide free test facilities, including CD-4 and viral load because poor patients could not afford cost of the investigation.

She said that creating awareness of the disease through dissemination of information was the right and favourable way to step the disease.


Azerbaijan has endorsed Program of Action on diabetes, thalassemia and hemophilia for 2011-15

December 2, 2010

Courtesy: abc.az
The Azerbaijani Cabinet Ministers has approved the Program of Action on a number of diseases for 2011-15.

The Cabinet informs that the programs of actions were approved by decisions #222 on diabetes, #223 on treatment and prevention of thalassemia, and #224 on hemophilia patients.

The first program is linked with a 2-fold increase in the number of registered diabetics in the country. It supposes creation of an electronic registry and database, organization of diabetes prevention schools, providing patients with insulin and other medications, etc.

The second program is linked with the fact that the country has about 1,800 thalassemia patients. It includes examination of marrying persons on the subject of threat of thalassemia in their offspring, organization of laboratories for screening of thalassemia carriers, medical and genetic consultations for them, organization of awareness about thalassemia jeopardy in secondary schools.

The third program is linked with the fact that the country numbers 1,300 hemophiliacs and their quantity is increasing by 30-40 people a year. It includes organization of inter-regional offices for patients with hemophilia, a register of such patients, training of specialists in haemophilia (including abroad).

All activities are financed in accord with Article “Health” of the State Budget.


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