World Thalassaemia Day 2023: Thalassaemia Symptoms, Theme, History, and Prevention

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8th May is observed as World Thalassaemia Day, a global event that is observed every year to promote awareness about this genetically inherited condition. Let us know more about this day, in this post. 

Thalassaemia is an inherited autosomal recessive disorder that is acquired by a person genetically from either a single parent or both. The observance of International Thalassaemia Day on May 8th is to remember the patients of thalassaemia who have succumbed to the condition. Moreover, it is also observed as a celebration, especially for the patients who are giving thalassaemia a tough fight to live a quality life.

So, what is thalassaemia? It is a genetic disorder associated with haemoglobin, which is a protein rich in iron and available in red blood cells. Haemoglobin works as an oxygen transporter to the blood. Hence, if someone has thalassaemia, they would have less haemoglobin than normal, which can make life difficult. Thus, thalassaemia patients require multiple blood transfusions regularly.

Reports state that over 280 million people worldwide are suffering from thalassaemia. Among them, over 5 lakh people are going through a severe form of the disease.

Though thalassaemia disease is prevalent across globe, it is said to be most common in the below mentioned ethnic groups, such as; 

  • Italian
  • Greek
  • Middle Eastern
  • South Asian
  • African

Symptoms of Thalassaemia

Some thalassaemia major symptoms include;

  • Anaemia
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Dark urine
  • weakness
  • Might be a cause of heart and liver damage
  • Children with the disease might experience slow growth

History of International Thalassaemia Day

Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF) is an organization started by Panos Englezos. In 1994, Englezos established the International Thalassaemia Day. He initiated the day in the memory of George, his son who died due to thalassaemia.

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How to Observe International Thalassaemia Day

  • Every year various activities are organized by Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF) to spread awareness about the disease which mostly revolve around the theme picked for that particular year
  • You can read about such activities and participate in them. You can also read about the disorder and spread awareness about it to help people as much as possible
  • Also, you can support and strengthen the morale of the people suffering from this disease for years

International Thalassaemia Day is an occasion when many organizations including international associations come together and promote the significance of counselling sessions, prenatal screening and other thalassemia treatments.

Significance of World Thalassemia Day 

Thalassaemia is a genetically transmitted illness that is acquired by patients from their parents. There are over one lakh patients suffering from thalassemia in India, with lakhs of carriers of this disease.

Globally, thalassemia affects thousands of pregnancies which give birth to many babies born with thalassemia major. A greater number of these patients are born in underdeveloped countries with no or less means of treatment for this disease. As such, treatment of thalassemia major is very expensive as it involves transplant of stem cells along with frequent blood transfusions. Hence, it is important to prevent this disease before birth. Prenatal screening is a process that can be used to identify the condition at the fetal stage.

However, not many people know about it and so it is important to create awareness about it among them. And there can be no better platform than the World Thalassemia Day to educate the public about healthcare campaigns on thalassemia in pregnancy. This way, through counselling, prenatal diagnosis, genetic screening, cases of thalassemia can be curbed before the birth of the child.

Theme of World Thalassemia Day 2023 

The World Thalassaemia Day 2023 theme is “Be Aware. Share. Care: Strengthening Education to Bridge the Thalassaemia Care Gap. ”

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How to prevent Thalassemia

Thalassemia is a disease that cannot be prevented. However, it can be managed. Below are some measures which can limit the risk of thalassemia among newborn babies.

  • Prenatal screening
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
  • Genetic test of parents to check the presence of thalassemia gene
  • General awareness about thalassemia

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FAQs: World Thalassaemia Day 2023 - Thalassaemia Symptoms, Theme, and History

Why do we celebrate Thalassemia Day?

Thalassemia is a condition that is genetically inherited. Here, the body of the affected person doesn’t create enough haemoglobin and weakens the blood cells. By means of International Thalassemia Day, it is aimed to create awareness about the struggles of thalassemia patients worldwide and to educate people about the condition and its preventive measures.

When was World Thalassemia Day celebrated first?

World Thalassemia Day was first observed on May 8 in the year 1994. The day was initiated by Panos Englezos, who started the Thalassemia International Federation (TIF) in the memory of his son, who lost his battle to the disease.

What is the theme of World Thalassaemia Day?

The theme of International Thalassaemia Day 2023 is “Be Aware. Share. Care: Strengthening Education to Bridge the Thalassaemia Care Gap. ''

Where does the name thalassemia derive from?

The name thalassemia is derived from the Greek word "thalassa" meaning "the sea". The condition of thalassemia was termed so as it was first detected among people living in the vicinity of the Mediterranean Sea. However, the disease is not just limited to the region of Mediterranean Sea but is prevalent across the world including Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, among others.

Why is the thalassemia test necessary before marriage?

This is because if two carriers of thalassemia marry and plan to have kids, there is a greater chance (one-in-four) of the child born with thalassaemia every time they conceive.

What is thalassemia meaning?

Thalassemia is an inherited disorder of the blood which is caused when the body doesn't make enough haemoglobin, which is regarded as an important constituent of red blood cells.

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May 03, 2023
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