“We can see many genetic disorders that can be prevented if consanguineous (blood related) marriages can be prevented,” Diabetic Association of Bangladesh President Prof AK Azad Khan said, citing Cyprus as an example.
Cyprus could reduce Thalassaemia significantly after they made couples aware of the disease, he said. Thalassaemia is a genetic blood disorder in which a person cannot make enough haemoglobin that leads to severe anaemia.
Cyprus made it mandatory for a blood test before cousins proceeded for marriage. “Based on the blood test, they were briefed in the Churches about the possible impacts of their marriage on their children,” Prof Khan said.
“Some still continued with their decision, but then they were highly advised to do a test during pregnancy. You can know any genetic deformity when the baby is in the womb and take a decision of termination”.
Director General for Health Services Prof Abul Kalam Azad, ICDDR,B Executive Director Dr John Clemens, and Emeritus scientist Dr Firdausi Qadri who created ‘Ideshi’ spoke at the conference.
Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority Prof Naiyyum Choudhury chaired the opening session.
“We don’t have data to comment on these diseases in Bangladesh, but the consanguineous marriage is very high here,” he said.
Statistics show 14,000 children are born with thalassaemia in Bangladesh a year.
He stressed increasing capabilities to diagnose genetic disorders in Bangladesh. “We need both human resources and logistics in this field”.
Dr Md Kaiissar Mannoor, a scientist, said the rates of genetic disorders have “increased” with the drastic reduction of child deaths, since more children live beyond five years.
But “very little” had been done in Bangladesh in this field, he said.