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10m citizens carry Thalassemia gene

Update: May, 12/2015 - 08:45
More than 10 million Vietnamese citizens are carrying the thalassemia gene, and about 20,000 people have contracted the disease and need treatment, experts say. — Illustrative image/ Photo alobacsy

HA NOI (VNS) — More than 10 million Vietnamese citizens are carrying the thalassemia gene, and about 20,000 people have contracted the disease and need treatment, experts say.

Nguyen Anh Tri, Director of the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT), told a workshop in Ha Noi last week that thalassemia is a social issue that can seriously impact the economy and citizens' quality of life.

Tri, who is also chairman of the Viet Nam Thalassemia Association (VNTA), asked people and authorities at all levels to act together in managing the disease.

He said the National Thalassemia Programme should be implemented effectively to reduce the number of children born with the disease.

The workshop, co-hosted by the NIHBT and the VNTA to mark International Thalassemia Day, which fell on Friday, aimed to raise public awareness of the disease and find preventive measures.

Reports presented at the workshop said about seven per cent of the world population carry the thalassemia genre. They also said that Viet Nam carries a high risk of the disease with an estimated 10 million people carrying the gene.

The NIHBT is currently treating more than 1,500 thalassemia patients from 20 northern provinces and cities. It also provides advice on thalassemia management to 5,000 people from different parts of the country.

Experts from the institute said basic treatment methods are blood transfusions and iron elimination.

Thalassemia is a form of anaemia, a genetic blood disease a child can inherit if one or both of his/her parents carry the mutant gene; the risk is higher if both parents have it. The disease is not always symptomatic, but can be identified through testing.

It is caused by variant or missing genes that affect how the body makes haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

Thalassemia can cause complications, including iron overload, bone deformities, and cardiovascular illness.

Globally, about 25,000 Thalassemia-related deaths were recorded in 2013, down from 36,000 in 1990. — VNS

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