Kota Kinabalu: Sabah now has 1,433 thalassaemia patients as of last month, said State health director Datuk Dr Mohd Yusof Ibrahim.
He said the health department wants to bring down the number of sufferers in Sabah which has the most number of sufferers in the country.
According to him, the sufferers have registered with various hospitals in the State with the Women and Children Hospital in Likas recording 264 patients followed by Queen Elizabeth Hospital with 237 patients and Duchess of Kent Hospital with 163 patients. "We hope to reduce the number of such patients in the next 10 to 15 years," he said in his speech at the opening of a workshop for parents of thalassaemia sufferers here yesterday.
Dr Yusof represented Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.
He added that the government is concerned with the development and has plans to set up a special centre to control, treat and research the disease.
He urged all quarters to support the cause and reduce the number of thalassaemia sufferers in the State.
"We would like to urge those suspect to be suffering from it to undergo early checks at any of the 88 health clinics in Sabah," he said.
Dr Yusof also cautioned young couples who want to tie the knot to carry out checks too to detect the disease.
"On our part, we can help organize programmes with non-Muslim organizations like churches and so on so that they can advise couples to be aware of thalassaemia and the need to undergo checks," he said adding that a similar programme is being held by the Sabah Islamic Affairs Council for Muslim couples.
For expecting parents, he said health specialists could detect the disease in five-month foetus.
He added that the Singaporean health authorities have managed to bring down thalassaemia major cases to only three per year since health checks have become a requirement in 1980.
He also said that thalassaemia children could live normally when they reach adulthood provided there are proper care and treatment.
Meanwhile, Sabah thalassaemia Association KK branch chairman Jenifer Lee said the association has taken initiative to help the government to address the problem.
"We have public awareness programmes to educate the people on the dangers of thalassaemia," she said.
Present were deputy health director Dr. Adlan Suhaimi Ahmad, and the association president Francis Mujim.--Courtesy of New Sabah Times