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Marriage Fund drive to prevent blood disorders calls for premarital tests

Anwar Ahmad
Filed on June 12, 2010

ABU DHABI The Marriage Fund in Abu Dhabi has urged all residents, including nationals and expatriates, in the country to go for health screening before marriage and before planning a family to prevent certain diseases prevalent in the country.

The fund has launched a campaign, which will have media advertisements, lectures, meetings and workshops to reach the maximum number of individuals and families around the country.

Dr Maitha Al Shamsi, Minister of State and chairperson of the board of directors of the Marriage Fund, said at the launch recently that screening before marriage and before trying for children is vital to prevent diseases like thalassemia in the country.

The fund signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Health in June 2009 to promote premarital screening tests among Emiratis and expatriates and inviting them for counselling programmes.

“We aim to promote premarital and preconceiving tests for people because genetic blood disorders are transmitted from parents to their children. It creates psychological and social difficulties for the patient and the family as well as hampering the child’s happiness in life,” Al Shamsi said.

Premarital testing can prevent 60 per cent of congenital anomalies and about 100 per cent of commonly inherited blood disorders like thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia in the country.

During its campaign, the fund would emphasise on issues related to social affairs, health, and psychological influences in people’s lives which occur due to marital problems and the individual’s biological features that impact family’s stability and their intimacy.

Talking to Khaleej Times, Dr Mohammed Naveed, consultant geneticist and director of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, said there are approximately 1,200 cases of thalassemia between ages of three months to 35 years. Every week, one child is born with blood disorder in the UAE.

The Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) has also extended its support to the fund in launching a nationwide health awareness campaign targeting thalassemia patients.

The campaign will distribute leaflets and brochures in schools, colleges, educational and health institutions, and offices. The fund, with the support of ADMAF, has also produced a film to provide information about the disease, its consequences and steps that can be taken to prevent thalassemia.

Sickle cell anaemia is the most common inherited blood disorder in the GCC, affecting about 1.9 per cent people in the UAE, 5.2 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 3.8 per cent in Oman and 2.1 per cent in Bahrain.

Screening will reduce mother-to-child transmission of some infectious diseases that might lead to congenital death, Al Shamsi said.

anwar@khaleejtimes.com





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