Abu Dhabi: The cost of treating thalassaemia exceeds Dh1.2 million if the genetic blood disorder is not detected early.

For that reason, the UAE Genetic Diseases Association (GDA) and the Marriage Fund (MF), are encouraging prevention through a simple test.

Thalassaemia, which often manifests itself in the form of anaemia due to low levels of red blood cells and haemoglobin, has affected more than 1,150 UAE citizens.

Speaking to Gulf News about the costly treatment, during the launch of the Thalassaemia Health Awareness Campaign titled: The Choice is yours, for a UAE without Thalassaemia, Dr Mariam Matar, Founder and Executive Director of the UAE GDA, said: "The patient requires a blood transfusion every three weeks. In addition the patient requires medication, constant investigation regarding his/her blood vessels. The disease also affects other organs in the body, which requires ongoing monitoring."

In addition, said Mariam, the patient and his or her family members, need to be screened, and offered counseling.

Youth campaign

"That's why we encourage early detection among children and students, aged 14 to 16. In a research we have conducted, we found that in the past four years, the number of thalassaemia carriers has increased across schools and universities in the UAE. For that reason, we are extending our Thalassaemia Health Awareness campaign to youth."

She added: "To avoid the birth of children infected with Thalassaemia as a result of inter-family marriages, instead of focusing on her dowry, women should ask men proposing to them, to get tested for inherited blood disorders, and infectious/sexually transmitted diseases first."

Why the need?

  • To prevent about 60 per cent of congenital anomalies and 100 per cent of common inherited blood disorders like thalassaemia and sickle Cell anaemia
  • Decrease and prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases to partner
  • Reduce mother-to-child transmission of some infectious diseases that might lead to congenital anomalies/mental disorders/death.