By Muniza khan
Thalassaemias are a heterogeneous group of genetic disorders of human haemoglobin synthesis, characterized by imbalanced globin chain production which leads to ineffective erythropoiesis and anaemia.
Thalassemia occurs when there’s an abnormality or mutation in one of the genes involved in hemoglobin production. You inherit this genetic abnormality from your parents.
THALASSEMIA in PAKISTAN:
Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder. People with thalassemia disease are not able to make enough hemoglobin which causes severe anemia. Pakistan has about 100,000 Thalassemia patients, including 25,000 in Sindh and 18,000 in Baluchistan, whose lives depend on regular blood transfusion.
Thalassemia patients are mostly children who go through painful blood transfusions for several years in their life. Blood transfusions have their challenges and risks for the patients. Considering the cases of thalassemia in Pakistan the disease burden is significant and requires immediate attention.
Amidst the pandemic, the condition of thalassemia, blood cancer, and other blood disorders patients have become more challenging. Currently, such patients are experiencing limited access to treatment as hospitals across the country are forced to steer their resources and energies towards addressing the surge in Covid-19 cases.
“Blood cancer and other blood disorder patients suffer from immune deficiency. Even regular respiratory viruses are a problem and the spread of coronavirus is a major risk for the patients.”
These patients are more sensitive to infection than any other group, because the treatment itself destroys their own immune system, and replaces it with the donors. Thus, the management of such high-risk patients has also become challenging in this situation.
People with thalassemia in the time of COVID-19 pandemic:
Thalassemia is a genetic disorders where they need a regular blood transfusion for the survival and for that they need blood from blood banks. 40% of the blood collected in all blood banks are used for survival of thalassemia patients and we know now that in the period of COVID-19 pandemic all the blood banks are facing severe crises of adequate blood donation. COVID-19 PANDEMIC has made it difficult for thalassemic patients to get their blood transfusion done due to insufficient quantity of blood at hospital. Most blood banks are facing acute shortage of supply as various communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) find it increasingly difficult to organise blood donations camps and donors are not able to reach the banks on their own amid the ongoing lockdown across the country. A part from lockdowns, the fear of coronavirus is also deterring people from donating blood. “Most people believe their immunity levels will drop by donating blood ,making them more vulnerable to the virus”.
The situation is taking a very dangerous turn because ouur stock of blood is dryingup and it is very difficult to find donors who are willing to volunteer in the current situation.
The COVID-19 Pandemic adversely affected the alreafy suboptimal care catered to thalassemiac patients in Karachi,Pakistan. The fear of the virus contraction coupled with the lockdown and restricted mobility has disrupted the entire transfusion chain from donor to the recipient. Collaborated efforts by the government and health care authorities are essential to ensure sufficient blood for thalassemiac patients amid the pandemic.
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