wedding rings
Illustrative image. Image Credit: Pixabay

Cairo: There has recently been an increase in the number of people in Saudi Arabia seeking pre-marital screening, a service aimed at limiting transfer of genetic disorders, the Health Ministry said without giving specific figures.

Specialists offer medical counselling to the married-to-be people about likelihood of transfer of hereditary diseases to the other spouse or their future children, and provide alternatives, leaving for the couples the freedom of opting either to go ahead with their marriage plan or calling it off, Okaz newspaper reported.

Premarital screening is defined as testing couples who are planning to get married soon for common genetic blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia and sickle cell anemia as well and infectious diseases including. Hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS, according to the ministry.

The service also seeks to promote awareness about the concept of the comprehensive healthy marriage.

“Updating pre-marital screening procedures is periodically conducted according to recommendations of national committees such as those of hereditary diseases and infections,” the ministry said.

It urged people planning marriage to do medical tests at least three months before the date for wedding so that the couple will have a better chance for planning their marriage. The premarital compatibility certificates are valid for six months. The screening for infectious diseases can also be reconducted when needed.

The Premarital Screening Programme provides all Saudis with many services, including lab tests and medical consultation sessions, according to the ministry. The couples, who are planning to get married, are received together or separately.

The Saudi Health Ministry has set up 200 pre-marriage screening centres across the kingdom inside hospitals and some primary health care facilities.

Some private sector medical centres are also licensed to offer the service via a unified electronic system allowing reserving an appointment for screening through the "Sehaty"app, the paper said.