Shimla: Himachal Pradesh will soon have screening centres to estimate the prevalence of beta thalassemia trait among people, a health official said Sunday.
For this the state got a Rs.40-lakh project sanctioned from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
Around 2,500 people of marriageable age from colleges of Mandi, Kullu, Kangra and Shimla districts will be screened initially every year, project principal investigator Omesh Bharti told IANS.
He said the project would be later extended to the remaining eight districts too.
The project would include free genetic screening for thalassemia and treatment of those suffering from the genetic disorder. The carriers detected would be provided free genetic counselling and their identity would be kept confidential.
Studies indicate in India there are around 30,000,000 carriers of beta thalassemia gene and 7,600 babies affected with the disorder are born each year.
Bharti said there are estimated 200,000 carriers in Himachal Pradesh.
"But the genetic makeup of the hill population may be different," he said.
Another doctor, Rajesh Sood said 68 thalassemia-affected children were detected in the state during a survey conducted by the state health department five years ago.
"At present, there might be over 100 children suffering from thalassemia in the state," he said.
Prospective prevention such as population education, mass screening, genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis is the best strategy to cope with the disease, Sood added.
Many people are carriers of thalassemic traits which lead to chronic lifetime anaemia.
In cases where both parents carrying thalassemic traits give birth to a child, the child acquires full-fledged thalassemia major. These patients require frequent blood transfusions and face early death and disability as hemoglobin production in red blood cells is genetically deficient.