Task force to be set up to prevent genetic diseases: minister – The News International

Posted: March 2, 2020 at 4:49 am

Task force to be set up to prevent genetic diseases: minister

LAHORE : Punjab Minister for Health Prof Yasmin Rashid has said that only two per cent of children are born healthy and 98 per cent of children fall prey to one genetic disease or the other.

Considering it a highly important and sensitive subject, Punjab government decided to establish task force for the prevention of genetic diseases among children in the province, the minister announced this in a press conference held in connection with World Rare Disease Day 2020 here on Saturday. The day is observed every year all over the world on the last day of February (this year on February 29). The ceremony was arranged jointly by the Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology Children Hospital Lahore and an international partner institute from Germany.

Children Hospital Dean Prof Masood Sadiq, paediatric department head Prof Dr Huma Arshad Cheema and three-member team from Germany including Prof Peter Bauer MD and Dr Susan Krake also attended the ceremony.

Several children who had suffered genetic diseases were also brought by their parents from all over the country where the speakers highlighted the impact of the cousin marriage and marriages in same castes.

Prof Yasmin Rashid lauded the efforts of Prof Huma and her team to bring international renowned experts to Pakistan to observe highly important day to sensitise the government functionaries and the public about the burden of the disease on children because of marriages with cousins and in same castes.

Declaring it an alarming situation, she said that the treatment of the genetic disease is highly expensive and the Punjab government was allocating massive funds for the ailing kids.

She especially thanked to the international experts for coming Pakistan in order to educate the local doctors and create awareness among masses about the genetic diseases, saying that the establishment of a dedicated unit for the same purpose in Childrens Hospital Lahore was highly commendable.

She also acknowledged the services of Prof Huma Arshad Cheema for establishing the only department in any public sector institute in Pakistan (at Childrens Hospital Lahore).

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Masood Sadiq appreciated the efforts of the health minister for providing his hospital hefty funds Rs700 million, declaring it a major step to provide treatment to the kids uninterruptedly.

He said that the Childrens Hospital has provided free test and diagnosis facility to more than 2,000 children suffering from genetic diseases during last couple of years.

Prof Huma said that the department of pediatric and gastroenterology and Hepatology of Childrens Hospital Lahore is the only one all over the country for diagnosis and treatment of patients with the lysosomal storage disorders, inborn error of metabolism and all kinds of genetic diseases.

Declaring it a blessing for the kids in Pakistan, she said that these services were made possible in collaboration with a network of world famous scientists, physicians, charitable organisations and research centres. I am sharing with pleasure that we are able to provide treatment to the kids coming from all four provinces of Pakistan with genetic diseases, Prof Huma said.

She said that it is quite unfortunate that there is no private or public sector facility for genetic testing in Pakistan. We have to send blood samples abroad for testing and per person test cost is more than Rs200,000 and for tests of an affected children and his/her parents, we have to bear cost Rs600,000, she said. Despite the fact that the number of affected children was tremendously high in Pakistan, yet the Childrens Hospital was providing test facility absolutely free of cost, she said.

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Task force to be set up to prevent genetic diseases: minister - The News International

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