Do you carry thalassemia gene? The Union health ministry will soon find out. Recognizing the tremendous burden of thalassemia, the ministry has decided to launch a national programme to combat this genetic blood disorder.
In thalassemia patients, the bone marrow does not form normal red blood cells. Hence, the patient’s survival depends on repeated blood transfusions throughout life — once in every 2-4 weeks.
Union health secretary K Chandramouli told TOI that the urgency of such a national programme was unanimously accepted by state health ministers during a recent meeting in Hyderabad.
“The modalities of the programme will now be worked out in consultation with experts,” Chandramouli said. He added, “The programme will look at testing blood samples of adults before they marry. If two adults with the thalassemia gene marry, chances are very high of their baby being born with the disease. Since, majority can’t afford its treatment, we will soon start a pilot project.”