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International Thalassemia Day 2024

Focus: GS II- Health

Why in News?

International Thalassemia Day is a global healthcare event commemorated every year on May 8th to raise awareness on Thalassemia among the masses.

  • This year’s theme, “Empowering Lives, Embracing Progress: Equitable and Accessible Thalassemia Treatment for All,” encapsulates the collective mission toward universal access to comprehensive Thalassemia care.
  • Union Health Secretary stressed on the importance of timely detection and prevention of Thalassemia to tackle the disease and the need for wide awareness around the subject.
  • Currently, there are almost 1 lakh Thalassemia patients in the country, with approximately 10,000 new cases reported each year.

About Thalassemia:

  • Thalassemia is a genetic blood condition in which the body generates insufficient haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein molecule found in red blood cells that transports oxygen. Anemia is caused by the severe loss of red blood cells caused by this illness.
  • Anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or haemoglobin is lower than usual.
  • It is a hereditary disorder that is caused mostly by faulty haemoglobin production. It is passed down by one of the parents who is a carrier of the disease due to a genetic mutation or deletion of specific critical gene segments.
  • Parents are usually asymptomatic as carriers and there is a 25 per cent chance of passing it on to their children.
  • Acute thalassemia may require regular blood transfusions, whereas mild thalassemia does not require therapy.
  • Effects:
  • It affects all organs of the body. It starts with the bone marrow being unable to produce adequate haemoglobin.
  • The liver and spleen also come under pressure and overworked.
  • Sometimes thalassemics experience facial bone deformities.

Importance of preventive screening and awareness:

  • A person living with thalassemia has a life-long struggle.
  • The cost of maintaining a child with Thalassemia Major is almost Rs 2 lakh per year.
  • The rate of picking up a Thalassemia trait is 3-4 per cent. This means for every 100 people screened, there would be at least three to four people detected with the trait.
  • Hence preventive screening is an important measure.
  • Testing people for Thalassemia carrier status in society is very important to prevent the birth of a single Thalassemic child.


May 2024