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Image Credit: Gulf News

Manama: At least half of Kuwaiti couples who test positive for possible genetic problems that can be passed on to their children decide to go ahead with the marriage anyway, a senior health official said.

"Out of the 15,718 individuals who were tested since pre-marital medical tests were introduced in Kuwait in August, 97.3 per cent were given the all-clear to get married," Dr Yacoub Al Kandari, the head of the health ministry's social health department, has said.

"However, 45 per cent of the 315 people who tested positive for possible genetic problems that could affect children of their union decided to get married anyway," he said, according to Kuwaiti media.

Kuwait last summer made the test mandatory for all Kuwaiti couples wanting to get married.

The test, valid for six months, includes hereditary conditions such as sickle-cell anemia and thalassaemia, as well as contagious diseases like herpes, AIDS and Hepatitis B and C, Kuwait Times reported.

The ministry cannot impose a ruling on the couples who decide, in case contagious or hereditary diseases or conditions are discovered, whether they wish to proceed with the marriage.

The health authorities, facing the growing number of couples who have to take the tests, are now opening a second pre-marriage testing centre and will open a third one soon, officials said.

"The health ministry's role is not limited to testing citizens, but also to refer them to specialized doctors in case diseases or health problems are discovered," Al Kandari said.