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Caritas worries about blood disorder

A rise in cases has Caritas wanting to know more about blood disease that targets children

June 15, 2011

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An alarming rise in Thalassemia cases has prompted Caritas Chilaw to seek more information on how to combat the disease's spread. Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body produces abnormal hemoglobin that destroys red blood cells, thereby causing anemia. Caritas community leaders from across Chilaw diocese recently paid a visit to the National Thalassemia Centre in Kurunegala to find out more about the disease after hospital statistics showed a growing number of Thalassemia carriers in the diocese. “We want to give our villagers the most detailed and up-to-date information on the disease so that they will pass the message to others.” said M. Nisanka Fernando, program manager of Caritas Chilaw. The majority of cases in Sri Lanka are found in Kurunegala diocese, where the national center is located and where 650 patients are currently being treated. There are two main types of Thalassemia: alpha and beta, of which alpha is more common in Asia. Both types come in two forms. Thalassemia major is spread when both parents are carriers, while only one parent is needed to spread Thalassemia minor. One easy way of preventing the spread is by making pre-marital blood testing compulsory, said Dr. Rathnayaka M. Mudiyanse, a specialist in child diseases. Health Ministry statistics show around 150,000 marriages take place nationwide per year while 160 of these couples carry the gene for the blood disorder. “In our villages we will insist on pre-marital blood tests,” said Kumari Sadamanika, 36, a community leader from Marawila. “It is tragic seeing innocent children becoming victims of this disease. We do not want it to happen to anyone else,” said S. Ranjith Perera, a father of two.
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