Thalassaemia is the most common congenital disorder in Bangladesh. It is estimated that nearly 14,000 thalassaemic children are born every year here.
Treatment facilities are limited due to the high cost of medicine and limited availability of blood for transfusion. Furthermore, medicines are not available readily other than in specialised thalassaemic centres in Dhaka and Chittagong. As treatment is expensive and lifelong, majority of the patients hardly afford proper treatment and thus suffer from the complications of the disease.
Awareness of the disease and carrier detection has been partially successful in some countries of the world, especially, where abortion is not legal. Prevention of births of thalassaemic children is the best solution. But prevention of births of thalassaemic children by creating awareness, dissuasion of marriage between carriers or identify carrier couples before marriage and to offer counselling to separate has limited success.
Prenatal diagnosis and abortion of affected fetus have been most successful in preventing the births of thalassaemic children in many countries of the world like Cyprus, Greece and Iran. Prenatal diagnosis is the way to know before birth whether the fetus has thalassaemia or not.
Bangladesh government has taken note of the magnitude of problem of thalassaemia and is recently creating awareness of the disease, which is a very commendable step. It is very important that besides creating awareness of the disease and carrier detection, the government must also simultaneously make facilities for prenatal diagnosis. DNA lab should be immediately set up in each division with proper training of gynaecologists for collection of samples and training of molecular biologists or biochemists for DNA analysis.