“Study shows that the incidence of thalassemia is quite high in Sitheri in Dharmapuri”

It’s a disease, the incidence of which is different in different parts of the country. It’s grossly under-reported and needs awareness for prevention.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Most patients have to undergo regular blood transfusions all their lives.

On World Thalassemia Day observed on Thursday, State Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said a pilot project being conducted in Sitheri in Dharmapuri would be scaled up to include other parts of Tamil Nadu to study the incidence of the genetic disorder and to see what needed to be done for its prevention and treatment.

“There are certain hot spots such as Coimbatore, Ooty, Coonoor and Dharmapuri, where a project to sensitise health personnel to identify patients as well as an initiative for the creation of facilities can be launched under the National Health Mission,” he said. “We are already in the process of setting up a blood storage unit in Sitheri as a study shows that the incidence of thalassemia is quite high there. Once it is set up, patients will not have to travel all the way to Dharmapuri for treatment.”

Revathi Raj, honorary president of the Thalassemia Welfare Association, which organised an event to mark the day, said in Sitheri, the incidence of the disorder was 22 per cent, while in some other parts of the State it was less than one per cent.

“There is an urgent need to study the various pockets where the incidence is high. Ante-natal check-ups are vital as they can detect thalassemia early,” she said.

Families of children with thalassemia stressed on the need to comply with prescribed treatment and asked residents to donate blood. “Blood is our life,” a patient said.