Transasia and PATUT Unveil Vision for ‘Thalassemia-free India’
by Shrutee K/DNS
Mumbai: Padmashri Pankaj Udhas, Hon. President of PATUT, Jackie Shroff, Brand Ambassador, Thalassmia India and Suresh Vazirani, Chairman & Managing Director, Transasia Bio-Medicals Ltd. shared their vision of a ‘Thalassemia-free India’ at a Press conference held at HR College of Commerce & Economics in the presence of Dr. Suhas Mohnalkar, Head, Sickle Cell Disease program, Maharashtra, Mr. Kishu Mansukhani, President, Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board and Mr. Parag Thakkar, Principal, H.R. College & Economics and Mala Vazirani, Executive Director, Transasia Bio-Medicals Ltd.
As a part of this project, over 500 students from HR College and other nearby colleges participated in the Thalassemia awareness and blood screening camp where they were briefed about Thalassemia and their blood samples tested for Thalassemia. An informative documentary was also shown to the students during the camp. On this occasion, Transasia donated a sophisticated ERBA fully automated hematology analyzer to PATUT and sponsored the blood tests of all students. Developed at Transasia’s European subsidiary, ERBA H360 is customized to meet India’s need for quality and affordable diagnosis.
Speaking at the event, Suresh Vazirani, Chairman & Managing Director, Transasia Bio-Medicals said, “We have developed sophisticated blood analyzers that help in early detection for a number of fatal diseases that are a threat to not just the present, but the future generations of this country. Prevention of Thalassemia is a cause we are very closely associated with and we mark today, the tenth year of our association with PATUT. Together our aim is to make India Thalassemia-free and thereby help make a ‘Healthy and Happy India’. In the last two years, Transasia and PATUT have organized awareness and screening camps in many colleges across Mumbai helping thousands of students understand their role in preventing Thalassemia.
In his remarks, Shri Pankaj Udhas, Honorary President, PATUT, said, “From helping four children in 1982 to establishing centres for spreading awareness, detection, counseling and prevention of thalassemia, the impact of PATUT’s work has spread far and beyond. It is heart rending to see so many young children losing their lives to the condition, for want of a Bone Marrow Transplant. The support from Transasia is immense and I am truly thankful to them for their continued support including today’s donation.”
In his remarks, Jackie Shroff, Brand Ambassador, Thalessmia India, said, “As thalassemia is a hereditary disorder, it is critical that thalassemia testing be done before marriage. Unfortunately, many today are still not aware that they could be carrying the thalassemia trait which is passed on to the next generation. It is necessary to create awareness and reach out to the youth early. Am delighted to be associated with the cause and appreciate PATUT for its yeomen efforts in this area and the unstinted support of Transasia to this cause.”
The students underwent a Complete Blood Count (CBC) test on H 360, Transasia’s recently introduced fully automated ERBA hematology analyzer. As the instrument analyzes the sample in one minute, the students were given the reports immediately. Those suspected of any abnormalities were given proper counselling. The whole event was organized by the NSS volunteers of HR College. On this occasion, SAVIOUR, a first-of-its-kind blood donation app which connects patients and donors while maintaining complete anonymity, developed by Vazirani Foundation, the CSR arm of Transasia, was also unveiled.
About Thalassemia: In India, over 10,000 children are born with thalassemia major annually accounting for 10% of the total world incidence. One in eight of thalassemia carriers in the world are in India with 42 million carriers of thalassemia trait.
Once a child is diagnosed to have thalassemia homozygous disorders, he/she has to take lifelong treatment. Management includes regular 3 weekly filtered packed red cell transfusions, chelation therapy for iron overload, management of complications of iron overload and transfusions, including osteoporosis, cardiac dysfunction, endocrine problems, Hepatitis B & C, HIV infection, CMV etc. However, this optimal treatment comes at a prohibitive cost. The cost of treatment of an average weight 4-year-old thalassemic child is around Rs. 90,000-100,000 annually in a private set-up. Therefore, not more than 5-10% of thalassemic children born in India receive optimal treatment. Stem cell transplantation as a curative treatment, which costs between 6 and 16 lac rupees is out of reach for majority of children.
The birth of a thalassemic child thus places considerable strain not only on affected child and family but on society at large. Therefore there is emphasis for shift from treatment to prevention of birth of such children in future. Fortunately prevention of Thalassemia is not so difficult. Many countries have succeeded in prevention by:Population education, Mass screening of high risk communities for thalassemia minor, Counseling of those who test positive for thalassemia minor, Pre-natal Diagnosis A National Screening Program for Thalassemia for college students is urgently needed to prevent Thalassemia disorder in children.