‘Draft bill finalised for pre-marriage thalassaemia test’
LAHORE: The process of legislation on compulsory pre-marriage blood screening of couples for thalassaemia has started.
The Punjab Thalassaemia Prevention and Treatment Programme (PTPP) has finalised a draft bill for the purpose with the collaboration of lawmakers, said Minister for Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Khwaja Salman Rafiq while presiding over a meeting to review the performance of PTPP here on Tuesday.
The minister said a consultative seminar would be organised soon after Youm-i-Ashur to share the draft bill with all stakeholders and seek their suggestions on it. Religious scholars, members from civil society, medical professionals and other important personalities from various segments of society would be invited to the seminar, he added.
He stressed the need to launch a comprehensive awareness campaign in the media so that people started taking preventive measures while keeping its seriousness in their minds.
“Merely making and enforcing laws does not change things. Let us create awareness among masses so that they voluntarily opt for pre-marriage screening for thalassaemia,” he said.
PTPP Director Dr Shabnam Bashir said diagnosis of thalassaemia was not possible without blood screening. Many Islamic countries had made pre-marriage blood screening of couples mandatory through legislation to control the disease, and the experience had proved successful for them.
Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Secretary Najam Ahmad Shah directed that a chapter on thalassaemia prevention on the pattern of dengue should be included in syllabi of educational institutions. Boards of intermediate and secondary education should also be approached for the purpose, he added.
Meanwhile, a senior officer of the health department told Dawn that after incorporating the suggestions of religious scholars, members from civil society, medical professionals and other personalities from segments of society, the bill would be sent to the law department for vetting.
It would be discussed by the Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Health and then tabled in the House for making it law.