GCC doctors urge couples to get marriage blood tests

March 19, 2009

Courtesy by: ameinfo.com

Doctors in the Middle East are renewing their call for couples in the region to get blood test screening done before marriage in an effort to detect whether they are carriers of Thalassemia, the most common, inherited single gene disorder in the world.

‘If both potential parents have the thalassemia trait, there is a 25% chance their child will be born with the severe form of thalassemia. Sadly, parents who don’t get tested sometimes only find out they carry the thalassemia trait after their child is born with the disease,’,

says Dr. Essam Dohair, Coordinator, Dubai Thalassemia Center.

People with thalassemia are found anywhere in the world, but it is most commonly found among particular ethnicities, including those persons of Middle Eastern or Gulf ancestry.

Further complications ensue if thalassemia is not detected or treated properly. Most types of thalassemia cause red blood cells to be slightly smaller than usual, leading to a condition called microcytosis. Since iron deficiency most commonly causes microcytosis, doctors often mistakenly misdiagnose thalassemia as an iron deficiency and prescribe iron supplements.

Thalassemia and iron deficiency are different problems. Before doctors prescribe iron supplements, they should perform lab tests to evaluate iron levels and rule out thalassemia with blood screening.

Many thalassemia patients must receive regular blood transfusions as part of their medical treatment, which puts them at risk for iron overload. Too much iron can lead to permanent organ damage of the liver, heart and endocrine glands, leading to more serious and life-threatening health problems.

‘Early detection and comprehensive treatment have changed thalassemia from a fatal pediatric disease to one in which patients can live productive lives as an adult, thanks to medical advances,’ says Dr. Dohair. ‘However, many people in the Middle East are unaware of their genetic risk of thalassemia and need better information about comprehensive screening tests and treatment, including blood transfusion.’

NA may legislate pre-marital blood screening law soon

March 19, 2009

Courtesy by: dailytimes.com.pk

* Draft of law suggests Rs 50,000-100,000 fine, 6 month-one year jail for violators

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: The National Assembly may soon introduce legislation regarding pre-marital blood screening to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, thalassemia, hepatitis and other diseases that are transmitted through genetic abnormalities; blood transmission; and sexual relations, sources within the National Assembly said on Tuesday.

They said the government would impose stern punishment to enforce the law, which would be binding on every Pakistani couple. The punishments would range from a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000; six months to a year’s imprisonment; or both. Parliament is also planning on adding a provision to the law to collect the medical history of all Pakistanis deported from foreign countries, especially the Middle East, upon their arrival at airports. The sources said this was necessary as many people are deported from Middle Eastern countries after being found positive for HIV, hepatitis C, etc. Such people rarely inform the government or their families of these conditions to escape stigma and can thus spread the infections, they added.

The parliamentary sources said the law would be implemented through the thousands of basic health units (BHUs) functioning throughout the country. They said the officials working in these BHUs to keep a check on people violating the law.

The Standing Committee for Health in the National Assembly is due to meet today (Wednesday) to discuss the final timetable for placement of the bill before parliament and conduct a final debate on its pros and cons. According to committee Chairman Yasmeen Rehman, they would also discuss the issue of spurious drugs; shortage of life-saving medicine; and the high prices of medicines being sold by multinational companies.

She told Daily Times the committee had already drawn up the outline and major clauses of pre-marital blood screening law. She said passage of this law would ensure the safety of future generations from several deadly diseases.

Thalassemia Lawsuits

March 19, 2009

Courtesy by: aim168realestate.com

MT. LAUREL, NJ, – Thalassemia is one of a number of detectable genetic disorders that could be eliminated as part of a breeding program to improve the quality of the human species. Simple blood tests (on the order of those that are still required in some states) can detect whether a person is a carrier for the genetic defect responsible for the disorder, which will hopefully encourage carriers to refrain from breeding or even abort potentially defective fetuses. However, the absence of premarital blood test requirements and the inaction of negligent doctors stand in the way of removing this genetic impairment from the human genome.

What Is Thalassemia?
Thalassemia is a genetic defect in which the body is unable to correctly produce one of the proteins associated with the hemoglobin molecule, which is responsible for the major chemical actions performed by red blood cells, namely carrying oxygen to the body and facilitating the removal of carbon dioxide as dissolved carbonate molecules. There are two different proteins that make up the hemoglobin unit, known as the alpha protein and the beta protein. People who are unable to produce the alpha protein are described as having alpha thalassemia, while those who cannot produce the beta protein are described as having beta thalassemia.

How Will I know if I Am at Risk?
Unlike some genetic disorders, thalassemia can appear in minor forms that are relatively imperceptible to the sufferer. A person with mild thalassemia may be indistinguishable from a person who is short-winded for other reasons, and the person may never be diagnosed. This means that unlike other genetic disorders, you will not necessarily know that you have a family history of thelassemia.

Some genetic heritages are more likely to have thelassemia than others. Persons of Southeast Asian, Indian, Chinese, or Filipino heritage are more likely to have alpha thelassemia. Persons of Mediterranean, Asian, or African ancestry are more likely to have beta thelassemia, but these conditions affect persons of other ethnicities as well.The only way to know if you are a carrier for thalassemia is to have a blood test that screens you for this genetic condition.

My Doctor Didn’t Screen Me
Doctors who are counseling you before you decide to have children, whether obstetricians, GPs, or specialist genetic counselors, should encourage you to get tested for thalassemia, especially if you belong to one of the ethnic groups listed above. If your doctors fail to advise this, they may be guilty of medical negligence if your child is born with thalassemia. Once your child is born and diagnosed, you are looking at a lifetime hemmed around by serious restrictions for your pride and joy. Your doctor should take partial responsibility and contribute toward the lifetime of expensive care. Most doctors will not do this, so it is necessary to file a wrongful birth lawsuit.

Thalassaemia screening launched

March 19, 2009

Courtesy by: gulfnews.com

Dubai: Thalassaemia screening has been launched by aswaaq and runs until Thursday.

The campaign has been organised in cooperation with the UAE Genetic Diseases Association (UAE GDA).

It will cover all aswaaq staff working in the head office and in the Nad Al Hamar community centre, as well as the centre’s visitors from neighbouring areas, from 3 to 8pm.

Yousuf Sharaf, Deputy CEO, said: “As part of its social responsibility, aswaaq is keen to offer all kinds of support to the UAE community. From this perspective comes the collaboration with the UAE GDA which has launched its first project – Emirates Free of Thalassemia by the year 2012, with the aim of identifying the beta-thalassaemia and sickle-cell carriers in the UAE pre-marital population to make the country free from the new births of children with thalassaemia by 2012.”

200 Screened for Thalassemia as Dubai Properties Group Partners with UAE Genetic Diseases Association for Health Initiative

March 14, 2009

Courtesy by: Zawya.com

Dubai – Dubai Properties Group, a member of Dubai Holding, recently held a voluntary blood screening drive for its employees to test against commonly inherited blood disorders prevalent in the UAE, aiming to raise awareness on general health risks.

The screening exercise stems from DPGDPG’s corporate responsibility (CR) unit ‘Mubadara’, in support of the national health campaign ‘Emirates Free of Thalassemia 2012’ – the first project of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association (UAE-GDA).

Established under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, the UAE-GDA was launched by Dr. Maryam Matar, Executive Director, to tackle public health concerns and related issues for creating a healthy community.

Fareda Abdullah – Executive Director of Human Capital at Dubai Properties Group, said: “Contributing towards the welfare of our employees and the UAE at large is one of the key pillars in Mubadara’s CR initiatives. We organized an internal blood screening drive to educate our employees about the risks of genetic blood disorders, as we believe self-awareness is the first step towards eliminating diseases. We also seek to endorse the enormous efforts invested by the UAE Genetic Diseases Association in its fight against Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Anaemia.”

Dr. Maryam Matar said: “We would like to thank Dubai Properties Group in supporting and increasing awareness of UAE-GDA’s efforts to eradicate Thalassemia in the country by 2012. The UAE-GDA has been able to considerably reduce the impact of common genetic disorders prevalent in the country through its community outreach programmes, health education, counselling and free screening tests.

Mohamed Binbrek, CEO, Dubai Properties Group, said: “Dubai Properties Group will always endeavor to take on the best actions for its employees both professionally and personally, in our efforts to be a responsible member of the community.”

In line with the UAE federal government’s vision of eradicating Thalassemia by 2012, Dr. Matar has welcomed the support of Dubai Properties Group in raising awareness on the syndrome among community members.

Thalassemia is a hereditary blood disorder characterized by defective production of hemoglobin, leading to low production and over-destruction of red blood cells. The clinical severity of Thalassemia varies greatly depending on the exact nature of the genes that a person inherits. The severe type of Thalassemia is terrible and debilitating disorder to live with.

As the CR arm of DPGDPG, ‘Mubadra’ was established last year to contribute towards the overall benefit of the society through participating in community related activities, particularly those that serve to highlight the UAE’s well-being programmes.

Founded on four core pillars, ‘Mubadara’ seeks to invest in the people at Dubai Properties Group, the environment, community and the stakeholders. Since its launch, the programme has facilitated the implementation of several CR programs for the benefit of a large number of stakeholders.

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