Prevent birth of thalassemic children, says Rotary International

Written By Unknown on Senin, 09 Februari 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A local unit of Rotary International has devised a blueprint to make Mumbai and Thane ""free of thalassemia"" within the next six years. Its plan is to prevent the birth of babies who may be affected with this genetic disorder by screening pregnant mothers and young couples who could be carriers of the gene.

Rotary International Dist 3140 has outlined what it calls 'Vision 2020' prepared by paediatrician Rtn Dr Lalit Katkar and his team. ""We are emphasizing a shift from treating the disease to preventing the birth of such children in future. This can be achieved by education and awareness, screening youngsters of marriageable age, screening and counselling pregnant women and mass checks for thalassemia minor among high risk communities. A pilot project was conducted in Mumbai's colleges from September 2014,'' Katkar said.

Rotarians and their families numbering 7,000 in Mumbai and Thane will be tested as well.

The programme was launched Sunday, February 8 at a seminar on medical education at Haffkine Institute by Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao. The governor said the ""integrated medical approach"" between conventional and alternative therapies like ayurveda appeared promising.

Rotary says there are an estimated 65,000-67,000 b-thalassemia patients in India. It claims the carrier rate for the b-thalassemia gene varies from 1-3% in southern India and 3-5% in northern India. Certain communities namely Sindhis, Punjabis, Bhanushalis, Kutchis, Lohanas from Gujarat, Mahars, Neo-Buddhists, Kolis and Agris, Gowdas and Lingayats from Karnataka reportedly have a higher incidence of thalassemia.

More statistics issued by the report said that every year approximately 1,00,000 children with thalassemia major are born worldwide of which 10,000 are in India. In certain cases, lifelong treatment is the only answer which includes blood transfusions every three weeks. The patient must be managed for complications of iron overload and transfusions like osteoporosis, cardiac dysfunction, endocrine problems, Hepatitis B and C and HIV infection. The optimal treatment is expensive and costs around Rs 1,00,000 per annum for a four-year-old child which makes it out of reach for several patients. International,Lalit Katkar,hepatitis B,Haffkine Institute,Ayurveda

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