MOH Launches National HBD Detection Campaign

Muscat, The Ministry of Health (MOH),

represented by the Woman and Child Health Department, today

launched the National Campaign for Hereditary Blood Diseases (HBD)

Detection under the auspices of Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Sa’eedi,

Minister of Health.

The event is marking the untiring efforts taken to promote the

detection program for the HBD in all the Sultanate’s health institutions

particularly the primary healthcare institutions with the aim of

preventing the prevalence of HBD among the Omani community and

reducing rates of child mortality due to these diseases.

The inaugural address, delivered by Dr. Sa’eed al-Lamki, Director

General of Primary Health Care, reviewed studies of the HBD, which

were prepared by specialists underling rates of thalassemia and sickle

cell anemia in the Sultanate.

Dr. al-Lamki stated that despite the development of the health

system in the Sultanate, the percentage of children born with genetic

diseases and congenital malformations is still very high at 7%. The

percentage of people with sickle cell anemia is 0.3% and those with

thalassemia are 0.08%. The current numbers in the Sultanate are

estimated to be 6,000 with sickle cell anemia and 2,000 with

thalassemia.

He emphasized that the Ministry as a result has adopted

premarital examination and genetic counselling program as one of

preventive measures that limit the spread of genetic diseases where

the program was included in the MOH’s 7th, 8th, and 9th Five-year

plans.

Dr. al-Lamki highlighted that the MOH seeks, in collaboration with

the Ministry of Education, to expand the HBD medical check-ups

intended for individuals entering marriage to include further eleventh

grade students in the Sultanate’s schools. Students shall be examined

at the primary healthcare institutions in coordination with the schools’

administrations making sure that the student must carry out checkups

before moving to the 12th grade.

He stressed that the students whose results come up as a

carrier of the disease will be transferred to a geneticist with his/her

guardian to receive counselling. They will be informed about the

significance of the result, and directed them to consider it when

deciding to marry in the future since these diseases are transmitted

genetically to children if the other party is also a carrier of the gene.

Professor Salam al-Kindi, Hematologist at the Sultan Qaboos

University Hospital (SQUH), elaborated further on the burden resulting

from the HBD on individual, family, and community and suggested

some of preventive procedures.

Moreover, Dr. Fatima al-Hinai, Director of Woman and Child

Health touched upon the working manual for health workers in the field

of premarital HBD detection that involved the Ministry’s policy, the

provided services, the medical examinations, and counselling.

Dr. al-Hinai pointed out that the department training plan

regarding HBD detection program, as well as the media plan are

aiming at raising community awareness on the importance of detection.

The service is available in most of the primary healthcare centers in the

Sultanate’s governorates. The plan also aims at promoting the

collaboration between various relevant sectors in order to combine

efforts and utilise the available resources to realise the best results in

mitigating the spread of genetic diseases.

The event highlighted the role of the National Youth Committee

in promoting premarital examination program by launching Youth and

Healthy Life project.

The program further included launching of the working manual

for healthcare providers on the field of HBD detection that contained

the Ministry’s policy, the provided service, the medical tests, and

counselling.

At the end, the patron of the event and the attendees toured the

accompanying exhibition that displayed the department’s publications,

in addition to the most remarkable studies and surveys prepared in the

Sultanate on HBD and premarital screening.

Source: Oman News Agency

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