Monday, 15 July, 2024, Reg No- 06
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Beware of Thalassemia spread

Published : Wednesday, 10 July, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 280

“Treatment Approaches and Holistic Management: The management of thalassemia involves both allopathic (conventional medical) and alternative treatment approaches. Allopathic treatments focus on managing symptoms and complications, such as iron overload in patients undergoing regular blood transfusions”

Thalassemia, a hereditary blood disorder, represents a significant health challenge globally. Unlike contagious diseases or blood cancers, thalassemia is preventable through awareness and education. Its crucial to distinguish between thalassemia carriers and patients, as carriers typically display no external symptoms, while patients require lifelong medical care.

Prevalence and Impact in Bangladesh: Bangladesh reports a notable prevalence of thalassemia carriers, affecting approximately 11.4% of the population. Among these carriers, the prevalence is slightly higher in men (11.9%) compared to women (11.2%). These statistics emerged from a comprehensive 2024 survey across the country, which involved testing the blood of 8,680 individuals. The survey also shed light on the prevalence of other health conditions such as hepatitis B (1.2%) and hepatitis C (0.05%).

Thalassemia is primarily a result of defective genes that impair the production of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for carrying oxygen in red blood cells. When hemoglobin production is compromised, it leads to the formation of abnormal red blood cells and chronic anemia. The disorder manifests in various forms, with alpha and beta thalassemia being the most common types observed globally. These forms can vary significantly in severity, from mild cases that may not require medical intervention to severe cases that necessitate lifelong management and care.

Early Signs and Regional Variances: In Bangladesh, early signs of thalassemia typically manifest in infancy and include jaundice, pale skin, fatigue, and impaired growth. Identification of thalassemia carriers through genetic testing before marriage or childbirth is critical to prevent the transmission of the disorder from carrier parents to their offspring.

The 2024 survey highlighted regional disparities in thalassemia prevalence across Bangladesh. Rangpur division reported the highest prevalence at 27.70%, followed by Rajshahi (11.30%) and Chittagong (11.20%). Regional variances such as these underscore the need for targeted interventions and tailored public health strategies to address thalassemia effectively nationwide.
Historical Context and Genetic Basis: Thalassemia, first identified and named by American researchers Cooley and Lee in 1925, primarily affects populations with Mediterranean, African, and Southeast Asian ancestry. The disorder is caused by defective genes inherited from parents, and consanguineous marriages (marriages between close relatives) pose a higher risk of passing on thalassemia to offspring.

Alpha thalassemia results from defects in the genes responsible for alpha globin chains, whereas beta thalassemia stems from defects in the genes for beta globin chains. Major forms of thalassemia, such as Cooleys anemia (beta thalassemia major), typically require frequent blood transfusions and iron chelation therapy to manage complications associated with iron overload.

Treatment Approaches and Holistic Management: The management of thalassemia involves both allopathic (conventional medical) and alternative treatment approaches. Allopathic treatments focus on managing symptoms and complications, such as iron overload in patients undergoing regular blood transfusions. Iron chelation therapy is often employed to remove excess iron from the body and prevent organ damage, particularly to the liver.

In contrast, alternative therapies such as homeopathy offer individualized treatment plans aimed at enhancing the quality of life for thalassemia patients. These therapies emphasize a holistic approach to health, addressing both physical symptoms and psychological well-being through personalized treatment protocols.
Role of Awareness and Preventive Strategies: Public awareness campaigns play a pivotal role in preventing thalassemia. Through various media channels, seminars, and community outreach programs, awareness about the importance of genetic testing before marriage or childbirth can be disseminated effectively. Many countries, including Cyprus, Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, have implemented mandatory premarital genetic testing as a preventive measure against thalassemia transmission.

Nutritional Support and Lifestyle Measures: In addition to medical interventions, nutritional support plays a crucial role in managing thalassemia. Diets rich in iron, such as liver, red meat, spinach, and foods high in vitamin C like oranges and broccoli, are recommended to support hemoglobin production. Natural remedies like beet juice and pomegranates, rich in essential nutrients including iron, folic acid, and antioxidants, can also help manage thalassemia symptoms and support overall health.

Effective prevention of thalassemia hinges on comprehensive public awareness, early detection through genetic testing, and the implementation of proactive health policies. By promoting genetic counseling and encouraging informed decision-making regarding marriage and family planning, the burden of this inherited blood disorder can be mitigated significantly.

As Bangladesh continues to address the challenges posed by thalassemia, concerted efforts across healthcare sectors, supported by community engagement and governmental initiatives, will be essential in achieving sustainable improvements in thalassemia prevention and management.

The is Founder Chairman of Jatiya Rogi Kallyan Society

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