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Thalassemia Day Symposium

A symposium was conducted at Army Medical College, Rawalpindi by the Paediatrics Dept, Military Hospital (MH) to mark the celebration of the World Thalassemia Day and also to pinpoint the issues and challenges faced by physicians in Pakistan for screening, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Thalassemia.

Brig Munir Akmal Lodhi MOIC Thalassemia Centre, MH, Rawalpindi conducted the Symposium as the chief moderator. He opened the house by defining thalassemia as a group of inherited disorders of haemoglobin (Hb) synthesis with aberrations in globulin chains both alpha and beta. He further shared that 15 million people have clinically apparent thalassemia disorders today. The highest prevalence of thalassemia occurs in regions where malaria was, or still is, endemic.

Maj Gen Salman Ali HI(M), Principal Army Medical College, Rawalpindi and Head of Department Paediatrics, MH opened the forum for the guest speakers by presenting his discussion on the ailment. He highlighted the core clinical and community based aspects of thalassemia that a physician might come across in his OPD and the challenges he faces to diagnose thalassemia on daily basis. He highlighted the detrimental effects of thalassemia and its paediatric epidemiology in due course. He further suggested ways for daily handling and counselling the parents of the diseased individuals. He further added that tackling, countering and treating thalassemia in due time is one of the biggest medical challenges of the nation as more than 70% of our population is either rural or underprivileged.

Maj Gen Salman Ali HI(M) further urged the academicians to come up with better screening and training plans to improve and update the guidelines and protocols for controlling the disease. Maj Gen Shuaib Ahmed from Genetics Resource Centre envisaged the correct modus operandi to prevent thalassemia and limit the total number of cases at hand.

Maj Gen Ayyub Commandant Armed Forces Institute of Pathology also illuminated the attendees by highlighting the recent advances in the management of iron overload in thalassemia patients. He further explained the latest trends and measures as regards the practices in the UK specifically in his discussion. Maj Gen Pervaiz Ahmed Commandant Armed Forces Institute of Bone Marrow Transplant also shared an academic talk regarding allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in beta thalassemia.

On the whole the symposium was both enlightening and heartrending at the same time as thalassemia is a major concern in Pakistan, and lack of resources and awareness are big impediments in taking steps towards eradication of the disorder. Therefore, there is an earnest need to bring our practices at par with the international guidelines to attain maximum results and at the same time ensuring patient safety and well-being.