KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Health Department has set a target of zero-inherited Thalassaemia births by 2030.
Sabah’s Minister of Health and People’s Well-being Datuk Frankie Poon Ming Fung said based on department records, there were 33 babies born with Thalassaemia in Sabah in 2016, which then reduced to 26 the following year, before dropping further to seven in 2018.
He said the department’s Thalassaemia screening programme at its health clinics was one way of identifying and treating patients with the inherited blood disorder.
“The main target of the screenings from 2008 to 2015 were teenagers, expectant mothers, relatives of patients, Thalassaemia carriers and couples to be married.
“However, from 2016, the scope of the screening programme was widened and also focused on every Form 4 student in Sabah,” Poon said in his speech when officiating at the opening of the state-level 2019 World Thalassaemia Day here yesterday.
Poon said a total of 88,616 Form 4 students in Sabah were screened under the programme from 2016-2108, out of which 5,164 or 5.8 per cent were confirmed to be Thalassaemia carriers.
Poon urged more parents to allow their children to undergo screening as this was not only important to determine if they were stricken with the disorder or were carriers, but to take steps to ensure that it would not, as far as possible, be inherited by their children as well.
“Close cooperation between ministries, departments and relevant parties will fortify screening, treatment and preventive efforts in the state and country,” he said.
Poon said in 2014, Sabah had the highest number of Thalassaemia patients in the country with 1,528, with 1,815 patients were recorded last year.
Treatment facilities were being expanded with a daily treatment clinic established at the Kota Belud Hospital, while the Rosok Health Clinic, also in Kota Belud, had doubled up to being the first Thalassaemia information centre in the state. — Bernama