PESHAWAR: The law passed few years ago to control thalassaemia through premarital blood screening could not be implemented fully, said Health Secretary Dr Farooq Jamil.

“However, now Khyber Medical College’s Forensic and DNA Laboratory is providing the service along with premarital counselling,” he told a convention of volunteers working for the welfare of thalassaemia patients.

He said that around 4,000 to 5,000 thalassaemia patients were registered with major public sector hospitals and private blood transfusion organisations in the province.

Official says laboratory at KMC provides pre-marriage blood screening and conselling services to youth

“We are providing all kinds of facilities at the hospitals and now premarital thalassaemia testing facility at the newly established laboratory,” he added.

The convention was organised in Nishtar Hall here on Sunday by a youth volunteer group named ‘Jihad for Zero Thalassaemia’ having around 20 chapters in different universities across the country and some 6,000 youth enrolled as its volunteers.

The volunteers from Islamia College University, University of Peshawar, Gomal University, Khyber Medical University, Hazara University and many other educational institutions attended the convention.

The representatives of donors and local financial supporters were also present alongside the provincial bureaucracy to support the youth in their cause and show support for the thalassaemia patients.

Frontier Foundation, a private blood donating organisation, had also brought their young patients to the gathering.

Famous Pashto singer Hamayun Khan sang a beautiful song to pay tribute to the courage of the young patients and youth working voluntarily for the welfare of thalassaemia patients.

Anum, a volunteer at JZT, said that it had been only few months that she joined the cause with encouragement of her friends. She said that it was not easy to work as a female volunteer as it required going out but having seen miseries of thalassaemia patients she would continue to work as a volunteer.

Muqadas, another student hailing from North Waziristan, said that the disease often affected the poor. He said that it was a genetically inherited disease but many knew nothing about it.

“We would hold such gatherings and continue to create awareness among people until we are successful in eradicating thalassaemia.

Nizam, a 20-year old patient of thalassaemia, was also present at the gathering. He looked more like a 12-year-old boy, pale and hardly able to walk.

He said that he was six-month-old when he was diagnosed with the disease. He has lost an elder sister to the disease.

He said that he never played like other children. He said that as a 20-year-old, it was hard for him to enjoy life like other youth. He played games on his mobile phone mostly to pass time.

“Health is everything. If you have health you can do anything,” said Nizam. He added that he had no idea what he would do with his life.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2019