World Thalassemia Day is celebrated on May 8 every year. Pans Inglejos, president and founder of the Thalassemia International Federation, was the promoter of International Thalassemia Day in 1994. His son George died of thalassemia. Each year, the Thalassemia International Federation sets a theme for Thalassemia Day..
This year’s theme is’ Be aware, share and take care: work together with the world community to improve Thalassemia knowledge. ‘
If we look at the subject matter, then we can understand how important it is to create awareness for thalassemia.
Thalassemia is a problem in the production of hemoglobin particles in the blood. That is, there is anemia. It is an autoimmune mutant latent genetic hereditary blood disease; Comes to the child’s body from the parents. The disease was diagnosed in 1925 by Thomas Cooley and Parole Lee from the United States. Outbreaks appear to be exacerbated throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and China.
There are two main types of thalassemia. Major and minor. Carriers suffer from minor thalassemia. If you are born with this disease, it is Major Thalassemia. Alpha and beta are out there. Symptoms of Alpha Thalassemia are mild to moderate. The severity of the disease is much higher in beta thalassemia.
Children with thalassemia major colic anemia can usually live up to 30 years. From the thalassemia genes of both mother and father, 25 percent of the world’s children are infected with thalassemia, 25 percent are born healthy, and 50 percent are born as carriers.
Complete blood count or CBC may be given first to diagnose thalassemia. If hemoglobin levels and mean corpuscular volume are found to be low, thalassemia may be conceived. If you film the blood with it, you will see microcytic hypochromic anemia and target cells. In addition, serum iron, ferritin, transferrin levels are much higher. Hemoglobin electrophoresis is performed as a confirmation test. Thalassemia can also be diagnosed by DNA testing.
Minor thalassemia usually does not require any treatment. However, regular blood transfusions are the main treatment for thalassemia major. This is followed by a bone marrow transplant or a splenectomy. Bone marrow transplantation is an effective treatment.
The main treatment for thalassemia major is regular blood transfusion. After repeated blood transfusions, excess iron builds up in various organs, which we call hemocomatosis. Hemocomatosis can lead to liver failure, cirrhosis, hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, abnormal heartbeat, and pericarditis. To prevent such complications, Iron Chelation Therapy is given, which removes excess iron from the body.
Social awareness is very important in preventing thalassemia. The rate of thalassemia can be reduced by diagnosing thalassemia through awareness and adequate screening. If one of the spouses is completely healthy, then there is no risk of thalassemia in the newborn. However, they can be carriers.
By discouraging marriage among the carriers of this disease, it is possible to reduce the birth of a child with a new thalassemia. Marriage between relatives should be discouraged. Husbands and wives who are both carriers of the disease or who have one or more thalassemic babies can diagnose and avoid thalassemic babies through fetal examination. Remember, getting tested between 16 and 18 weeks of pregnancy can bring good results.
Every year more than one and a half thousand babies are born with thalassemia in our country and more than 10 thousand all over the world. 10-12 percent of the people in the country are carriers of the thalassemia gene. Necessary measures and awareness should be raised now to prevent such an epidemic. Don’t forget ‘Prevention is better than cure’.
The current government has launched several large centers for thalassemia. There are high quality medical services available at very low cost. Apart from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka Children’s Hospital Thalassemia Center, Bangladesh Thalassemia Foundation, a number of voluntary organizations are working to increase thalassemia awareness and provide medical assistance. In addition to this, a massive campaign should be launched on social media and mass media to create awareness. The price of medicines for thalassemia should be reduced. Screening should be done free of cost.
Thalassemia is not contagious. The disease is spread through carriers. It is usually possible to diagnose the disease within one to three years after birth. A large part of our country is youth. These young people need to be taught how to overcome thalassemia and raise awareness, as well as premarital thalassemia screening. We can start from school and college level. Bangladesh will be able to achieve the goal of World Thalassemia Day if the youth of this country come forward to increase this awareness. Remember, we need to continue our regular campaign to prevent thalassemia.
May World Thalassemia Day be a success. Let us know, be aware of thalassemia. Let’s work together to prevent thalassemia.
Author: Senior Physician, Uttara Modern Medical College and Hospital; Executive Member, Sampriti Bangladesh