Bangladesh is situated in a thalassemia belt of the world and around 10 percent of its entire population is potential carrier of this disease, microbiologist Mahbubul H Siddiqee, researcher of Biomedical Research Foundation (BRF) Bangladesh, said referring to a recent study conducted by the foundation.
A 15-member team of (BRF) under 'Community-based Thalassemia Care and Prevention' project run by the foundation conducted a two-day awareness campaign on thalassemia among students of 12 colleges in the district on March 3 and 4.
The team consisting of multi-disciplinary researchers including microbiologists, molecular biologists and clinical researchers conducted the campaign of the research platform to make the students aware of the dreadful disease.
Around 2,000 students attended the campaign conducted through intensive sessions held in each of the 12 colleges.
The students were provided basic information of the disease as well as the knowledge on how to keep the future generation free from the disease, observed this correspondent while attending a session at Nurunnahar Mirza Kasem Women's College in the district's Madarganj upazila on March 4.
“Thalassemia is a genetic disorder and the patients of this disease cannot produce normal red blood cells (RBC) and consequently suffer from severe health complications that eventually lead to death,” Mahbubul H Siddiqee said at the programme.
“Awareness on this disease in Bangladesh is extremely low. And so, BRF has taken an awareness building programme on this crucial issue so that people, especially young boys and girls, can be educated on how to ascertain whether they are carriers of thalassemia.
“A carrier of thalassemia does not suffer, but if a carrier marries another carrier, there is a high chance for newborns of the couple to be infected with the disease.
“This disease can be prevented by stopping marriage between carriers. So individuals should know about their carrier status through blood test before getting married.
“A patient of thalassemia, suffering from various health complications like stunted growth, spleen enlargement and severe weakness, cannot achieve a long life span and he/she has a greater chance of dying of heart failure,” he said.
After a two-hour-long session at the college where around 150 learners participated, the researcher got a good feedback on the issue.
Molecular biologist Mohammad Sorowar Hossain, who led the research team, said, “We deem it a success as the students of 12 colleges attended the awareness campaign and gave satisfactory feedback on the matter.”
Expressing concern about scanty blood screening facility to detect the disease carriers outside capital Dhaka, he said, “It is high time the government took pragmatic steps to minimise the spread of the deadly disease considering the welfare of the future generation.”