Sindh makes filing of declaration prior to marriage mandatory
The provincial government finally notified Khateebs and marriage officiates to not solemnise a marriage unless a written declaration stating the bride and groom are not thalassaemia minors is submitted to them.
This was stated by Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan at a presser on Monday. Four years after the Sindh Prevention and Control of Thalassaemia Act, 2013 was passed, the Sindh government made it mandatory for a newly-wed couple and guardian of a bride to-be to file a declaration with the marriage officiate stating that both the bride and groom are of 18 years of age or above, and have been tested negative for Thalassaemia, Khan said.
A notification to this effect was issued to the concerned authorities on October 5, 2017, by the Sindh Local Government, Housing and Town Planning Department; the notification was distributed by the senator among media personnel.
“If both the bride and groom are Thalassaemia minors, there is a 25 percent chance of their children being born with Thalassaemia, a dreaded disease which causes a child to remain dependent on a donors’ blood for their entire life. Most of the children suffering from the blood disorder die within eight years of their birth,” he added.
Taking all the credit for the provincial government passing the legislation, Senator Haseeb claimed the first bill for eradication of Thalassaemia was presented in the parliament in 2004. “It was a one-page bill…it was a joke. It was not a serious effort to eradicate the blood disorder from the country.”
“In 2009, some parliamentarians again presented a bill in this regard but the then federal health minister opposed it. But I continued my efforts in this regard and as a Senator, presented a private member bill in the senate in May 2010. In 2012, I hosted a meeting with the stakeholders, where an amended version of the bill was approved by 51 stakeholders,” Khan said.
It was due to these continuous efforts that the Sindh Assembly passed the legislation in September 2013, after health became a provincial government’s subject following devolution of powers, he maintained. “The Sindh government took four years to implement its own law. The notification directing all Khateeb and marriage officiates to take a written declaration was issued just recently.”
The senator hoped that the implementation of law will gradually result in the disease getting eradicated from the country, once and for all.
“Every year, 5,000 Thalassaemics are born in Pakistan and they don’t even get to see their 9th birthday. We have 100,000 children who are dependent on others’ blood to live,” he claimed.
Responding to a query over availability of blood screening facility for Thalassaemia, he said the test is cheap and available in the entire province. If there is any place that does not have access to such a facility, it is the government’s responsibility to make necessary arrangements. The recommended punishment for violating the law is a Rs50,000 fine and a three-month jail term.