Centre, state to fund Thalassemic kids for bone marrow transplantation

Govts to cap price of procedure at Rs 9L, down from actual cost of Rs 30L

There is good news for people suffering from Thalassemia, a blood disorder.

The Central and the state governments have come up with a proposal to fund bone marrow transplantation, the only possible cure for such patients. Thalassemia is a inherited disorder of the blood having abnormal haemoglobin production. Patients have to undergo frequent blood transfusion to prolong their life.

Although the proposal is still in its nascent stage, there have been talks that the Centre would fund the procedure and the state government has to identify eligible patients and coordinate with hospitals having the expertise to perform such transplantation.

Dr Swatantra Kumar Banakar, deputy director, blood cell, department of Health and Family Welfare Services, said that if a person has to undergo such complicated surgeries, the family has to shell out around Rs 30 lakh, but the Centre and the state government have capped the price of the procedure at Rs 9 lakh.

"The focus is mainly on children suffering from Thalassemia. We already have in our list 500 children who have to undergo bone marrow transplant. We are now focusing on the proposal to tie up with hospitals which have expertise to handle surgeries like this," Banakar said. The state government started catering to the needs of people suffering from blood-related disorders in January 2017. In the past one year, the department has managed to identify 1,700 persons with haemophilia and 1,900 persons with Thalassemia.

Banakar said the figures were still very low as they were still in the process of identifying them through Asha workers. He said once patients are identified, they are suggested to undergo tests which again can be done in district hospitals to understand the nature of the disease and the treatment required. He said the state government, through the National Health Mission, was allotted Rs 14 crore last year and another Rs 8 crore to cater to these patients.

Vikash Goel, president, Haemophilia Federation (India), said better late than never the state government had woken up to the health crisis of many who otherwise were dying. "Compared to other states, Karnataka is doing well in catering to such patients. The state government, however, still lags in the field of testing persons suffering from blood-related disorders. There is a need to focus on this," he said.

The National Heath Mission, along with the central and state governments, are organising a two-day international workshop with the participation of SAARC countries on prevention and management of Haemoglobinopathies and Haemophilia on February 1 and 2 at Hotel Lalit Ashok.

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