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International Thalassaemia Day events in Kandy today

International Thalassaemia Day falls today. This year’s theme is ‘Thalassaemia, past, present and future: Documenting progress and patients’ needs worldwide’. The national celebration will take place in Kandy, Health Ministry sources said.

According to the sources, the Thalassaemia Walk will commence from Kandy Teaching Hospital premises at 8.30 am today. During the walk, various types of demonstrations will raise awareness of the disease. The thalassaemia screening pilot project for schoolchildren will commence tomorrow in Kandy. Under this screening programme, schoolchildren of the ages 13 and above will be screened free of charge and they will be issued a card mentioning their thalassaemia status. The programme will be extended to the entire Kandy district soon. Thalassaemia is an incurable disease which requires life-long medical treatment and blood transfusions. It is a congenital hereditary disease, when either parent is a thalassaemia gene carrier. The only way of preventing thalassaemia is avoiding the marriage (or at least childbirths) of two thalassaemia gene carriers.

A simple free blood test can reveal whether a person is a thalassaemia gene carrier or not, the sources said.

At present, there are about 2,000 thalassaemia patients in Sri Lanka and annually around 100 new thalassaemia infants born in the country. It costs Rs. 10 million for the government to look after one thalassaemia patient in one year with required medical treatment, blood transfusions etc, the sources added.