Adham Baba: One out of every 20 students screened are thalassaemia carriers


PETALING JAYA: One in every 20 Form Four students have been detected as thalassaemia carriers since screening was introduced in 2016, says Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

The Health Minister said 31,716 students out of 729,994 students screened since 2016 were carriers of the genetic disease.

"It means 464 people in every 10,000 Form Four students screened were carriers. It is equivalent to 5% or one in every 20 students who were screened," he said during the virtual launch of the "NowyouSEEme" Thalassemia Awareness Campaign 2021 on Wednesday (Jan 27).

Also present were Deputy Education Minister I Muslimin Yahya and Repsol Malaysia director Pablo Ortola Martinez.

Thalassaemia is a blood condition where the body does not produces enough haemoglobin, a blood component that carries oxygen, resultinhg in patients feeling weak, tired, short of breath and fatigued.

Patients need blood transfusions every three or four weeks to ensure the number of blood cells is at a sufficient level.

A hereditary condition, thalassaemia prevalence among Malaysians is estimated at 2.5 to 5%.

Considering the high treatment cost, Dr Adham said the Health Ministry introduced thalassaemia screening for Form Four students in schools since 2016.

The 16-year-old students were chosen as screening targets as their hematologic parameters are similar to adults'.

"The 2018 Malaysia Thalassaemia Registry Report says that, as of November 28,2018, a total of 8,681 patients have been registered.

"Among them, 7,240 patients are receiving treatment while 130 patients have recovered with stem cell treatment," he said.

Out of 7,984 thalassaemia patients in Malaysia, the age group between 11-15 years old have the most number of patients at 1,394 (17.46%) cases, followed by 16-20 years old with 1,286 (16.11%) cases and 6-10 years old with 1,272 (15.93%) cases.

Meanwhile, the 'NowyouSEEme' Thalassemia Awareness Campaign is a joint effort of the Health Ministry, Education Ministry and Repsol Malaysia.

The campaign is aimed at educating secondary school students to be better informed and to play an active role in society to manage and eventually eradicate the disease.

"With the support of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education on this campaign, we are able to achieve this by engaging an important group of people – the students – more effectively and impactfully," he said.

The 'NowyouSEEme' activities will run from March 15 to Aug 18.

For more info on the programme, log on to www.nowyouSEEme.com.my

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