Thalassemia: Learn something, will you?

July 11, 2010


For over four years, Fight Against Thalassemia (FAiTh) has been trying to convey a simple message across to the government: to pass and implement a Pre-Marital Mandatory Tests Bill in the country. This is a simple request for a simple bill and a simple solution to highly complex problems that our society faces today.

Even though right now there are no government-based Thalassemia treatment centers, this situation will improve soon as there will soon be as many as seven Thalassemia treatment centers run by the Government of Pakistan. The exact date of when these centers will be setup however, only two G’s know: God, and Government.

FAiTh has attempted to utilize a myriad of media: from print to web-based, from television to spreading awareness on its own through the help of media owners. While FAiTh was busy with awareness campaigns, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly sent us a shocking, yet pleasant surprise: they passed the Pre-Marital Mandatory Tests Bill.

This was a cause for celebration! However, this overwhelming joy was quickly swept over by another question: When a conservative province like the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is progressive enough to pass the bill, why are the other provinces so reluctant?

The North West is a place where the men do not want anyone to see their female counter-parts. I salute them for passing the bill and giving other provinces what we call, “ghairat ka dose.”

And, just after a few short days, the Sindh Assembly gathered all of its courage, and passed the resolution as well! What a brilliant milestone!

This is all great! However, what the Punjab Assembly did comes as a big slap across the metaphorical faces of all the other Provincial Assemblies. I understand that I am going to be opposed with many objections after this post. Even as I wrote this, I came up with several queries myself, such as it will be an invasion of privacy or that more problems will be caused for girls and aged women who are still awaiting their match.

I am supporting this bill because of the medical check-up made necessary. This can surely help to put a full stop to the birth of 5,000 Thalassemic children every year. It is not the children, that shouldn’t be born. It is Thalassemia. I have mentioned in my earlier posts as well, that I am representing Thalassemia patients of Pakistan. I am their ambassador, and I speak for them when I assert that they will be happy with this new law.

Now, the National Assembly needs to get some ‘ghairat‘ and do their part: implement the law countrywide!

Family Laws Amendment Bill presented to NA

January 12, 2010

Courtesy by:

National Assembly Tuesday granted leave to move ‘The Muslim Family Laws Amendment Bill 2009’ further to amend the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961.

MNA Justice ® Fakhar-un-Nisa Khokhar moved the bill to the House that was sent to Standing Committee concerned by Acting Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi after the government did not oppose it and the House granted leave to move the bill.

Presenting the bill to the House, the member said, it provides for presentation of a medical certificate about blood test by the bride and bride groom that they are not suffering from Thalessemia.

Referring to specific amendment in the Ordinance, she said, the Bill provides ‘before registration of a marriage, the Nikah Registrar shall ensure that pre-marital blood screening of the bride and the bride groom have been undertaken and certificate to this effect have been produced by each party before the Nikah os solemnized or registered.’

She said in Pakistan 12.5 million children and individuals are affected by Thalassemia, which can be controlled through appropriate tests before entering into wedlock. In this way, we can prevent the birth of children suffering from Thalassemia.

Advisor to Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali described this bill as of utmost importance and said, the rate of under nourished children and those suffering from blood diseases was high and blood test must be a requirement before marriage.

She urged to regularize functioning of medical laboratories in private sector and also upgrade the testing system at the public sector laboratories.

Shahnaz said, the medical standards regulation system also needed to be strengthened both at provincial as well as federal level.

Mandatory pre-marital blood test

October 23, 2009


The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Wednesday, urging the government to make tests for Thalassemia, HIV and other diseases “mandatory” for couples before marriage.

Two other resolution were also passed; the first sought restoration of the “Guzara allowance” for the needy, while the second recommended adopting a uniform and integrated admission policy in academic institutes to promote harmony in the province.

A resolution moved by Prisons Minister Muzaffar Shujra recommended that the Sindh government make blood tests for Thalassemia, HIV, Hepatitis and other diseases mandatory for couples before marriage. It also called for launching a comprehensive campaign to create awareness about genetically-transmitted diseases.

Health Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed said that there was a need to reserve funds for launching this campaign and to establish centres for such blood tests. Information Minister Shazia Marri said that several diseases could be prevented through blood tests.

Another resolution, jointly moved by Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) parliamentary leader Syed Sardar Ahmed, urged the Sindh government to approach federal government to restore the “Guzara allowance” for the needy to provide them with immediate relief in the form of monthly financial assistance. This allowance is to be paid from Zakat funds.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro drew the attention of the law minister to the absence of several ministers in the House.

The Assembly also unanimously passed a resolution which was moved by Dr Sikandar Mandhro. It urged the Sindh government to adopt a “uniform and integrated admission policy” in academic institutes located in major urban centres, in order to provide equal opportunity to students of rural areas. The resolution also sought to set up campuses in rural areas of high quality urban academic institutes.

Dr Mandhro said that quality education was only being provided in big cities such as Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, even though talent was available everywhere. He said that people from rural areas have feelings of “injustice” arising out of lack of an integrated admission policy.

There are many fissures in the national canvas, he said. Dr Mandhro also lamented the failure to develop national unity despite the passage of 60 years. “We have to provide equal opportunity to every talented person,” he said, adding that it was mandatory for each university to set up its campus in rural areas, but this law was not being implemented.

He asked why NED University and the University of Karachi were not setting up campuses in rural areas, like the Sindh University and Mehran University.

Law Minister Ayaz Soomro said that the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) had set up four campuses in various cities. He disclosed that the government was considering a new law to cancel the registration of private schools which do not teach the Sindhi language.

Dr Sagheer Ahmed said that they had reserved 45 medical seats in Karachi for students from rural areas. Similarly, 20 seats for urban students have been reserved in other medical colleges.

A fourth resolution was also passed unanimously, renaming Taluka Daulatpur in Qazi Ahmed as the Taluka Qazi Ahmed.

Opposition leader Jam Madad said that this was good resolution which should be implemented. Later, the Speaker read out the Sindh governor’s notification, proroguing the session of Sindh Assembly.

SA demands uniform admission policy

October 23, 2009


KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly has unanimously demanded the provincial government to adopt a uniform admission policy in educational institutions of the province for providing equal opportunities to students of rural and urban areas. A PPP lawmaker, Dr Sikandar Mandhro moved a resolution in this regard that the house passed unanimously. All the parliamentary parties including the MQM and PML-F supported the resolution. The resolution says, “This assembly resolves and strongly recommends to the government of Sindh to formulate a uniform and integrated admission policy providing equal opportunities to the students of the province to get advantage of better education in urban institutions, imparting quality education in various fields of study and to spread out such facilities throughout the entire province by establishing campuses of such institutions to extend quality education to everyone, which is the basic right of all citizens of the state safeguarded in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” The House also unanimously carried an out of turn resolution jointly moved by Sindh Law Minister Muhammad Ayaz Soomro and MQM’s parliamentary leader, Sardar Ahmed. The resolution reads, “This assembly unanimously resolves and recommends to the provincial government to approach the federal government to restore the Guzara Allowance to be paid from zakat funds to the needy and poor persons as it provides immediate relief to the people in the shape of monthly financial assistance.”

The House passed yet another resolution tabled by Sindh Minister for Jails, Haji Muzaffar Ali Shajra which says, “This assembly resolves and recommends to the government of Sindh to carry out a comprehensive campaign of awareness for preventing genetically transmitted diseases, like Thalassemia, Hemophilia, HIC/AIDs etc and make it mandatory to carryout blood test of couples before getting married.” The House unanimously adopted yet another resolution moved by Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro which says, “This assembly resolves and recommends to the government of Sindh that taluka Daulatpur at Qazi Ahmed be re-named as taluka Qazi Ahmed.” staff report

6,000 NWFP contract employees regularised

October 23, 2009


PESHAWAR – The NWFP Assembly on Thursday passed a law regularizing all the contract and ad hoc employees which will benefit around 6,000 employees in various departments presently working on contract and ad hoc basis in the whole province.

NWFP Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour presented the NWFP Employees (Regularization of Services) Bill, 2009 on the floor of the house and after heated discussion it was passed.

It is worth mentioning here that NWFP Governor had regularized the contract and ad hoc employees through an ordinance sometime in September 2009. That ordinance was made an act with amendments moved by the opposition lawmakers. 

The mover informed his colleagues that it would benefit around 6,000 employees presently working in various departments on contract and ad hoc basis. He said that previous governments had appointed these contact and ad hoc employees. “We also amended the bill so the seniority of permanent employees and those qualifying the Public Service Commission (PSC) could not be affected”. 

The NWFP Assembly also passed a bill making mandatory for the would-be couple to conduct Thalassemia and Hepatitis C test before solemnizing the marriage. The bill named the North-West Frontier Province Preventive Health Bill, 2009, was tabled by ANP MPA Saqibullah Chamkani which was passed with amendments moved by JUI (F) MPA Mufti Kifayatullah. 

In order to take preventive health measures in the province, every marriage in the province before solemnizing would fulfil the preventive health measures that are Thalassemia and Hepatitis C tests. 

According to the new law, the result of the tests (whatever it might be) would have no effect on the marriage being solemnized. Before solemnizing, the Nikah Registrar would obtain test reports of premarital screening of spouses, it added. The Nikah Registrar would also keep and maintain the reports for at least two years from the date the marriage was solemnized. 

Meanwhile, during the question-answer session, the lawmakers underlined the shortage of police force and fewer facilities. Keeping in view the worsening law and order situation, they were of the view that police should be strengthened to face the insurgency in NWFP. 

The legislators hailing from the far-off areas demanded of the government to ensure the availability of medicines in public sector hospitals. Later the speaker adjourned the session for Monday.

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