A BIG and diverse crowd joined the ‘Let’s Walk for Thalassaemia 2019” event at Penang City Park.
The 5km walk was meant to raise funds for the Penang Thalassaemia Society which currently has 421 members, of whom 370 are patient members.
State health committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin, who flagged off the event, said thalassaemia patients require lifelong treatment involving regular blood transfusions and medication for iron chelation.
“Due to great improvement in treating thalassaemia, we now have healthy thalassaemics living normal and productive lives.
“Penang was one of the first states in Malaysia to introduce oral iron chelation therapy and blood filters.
“I was told that the Penang Thalassaemia Society played an important role in guiding other states in setting up their own societies.
“Furthermore, the society was at the forefront in pushing the Health Ministry to provide free iron chelation therapy and filters.
“Due to the efforts of the society, all thalassaemics in Malaysia are able to obtain free treatment from government hospitals, ” he said.
Dr Afif said thalassaemia is the most common inherited condition in Malaysia.
“It is important that we go for screening to determine our carrier state, especially young adults who are planning to get married, ” he said.
Dr Afif said the funds raised from the walk would help improve the treatment of patients.
“The money will go towards purchasing medical equipment and vitamins for needy patients, ” he said.
“Part of the funds will be used to organise medical camps to help bring in specialists to educate staff and patients.
“I am pleased that other NGOs have stepped forward to contribute to this cause, joining the state government which has donated RM10,000.”
Meanwhile, Penang Thalassaemia Society president Noorasyikin Md Saad said thalassaemics required regular blood transfusions to correct their low red blood levels.
“Due to these transfusions, the iron levels rise and medicine is required daily to remove the excess iron.
“Due to our efforts, Penang thalassaemics now enjoy full and productive lives with many holding good jobs.”