A Dh5 million (US$1.4m) centre for treating the genetic blood disorder thalassaemia is to be established in Fujairah Hospital, and should be open by October. Thalassaemia, an inherited disorder that causes the body to produce fewer red blood cells and less haemoglobin, thus leading to anaemia, is prevalent in the Middle East. The agreement was signed between the Ministry of Health and the healthcare provider Gulf Drug Establishment, which will manage the centre.
Sultan al Moazen, a Federal National Council member for Fujairah, said last year that thalassaemia sufferers in the northern emirates often faced long journeys to other hospitals to receive treatment. The country's main centre for thalassaemia is in Dubai. Between 50 and 70 children are born with thalassaemia in the UAE every year. Because it is caused by a recessive gene, a child born to two carriers - who have one faulty gene but are not afflicted by it - has a one in four chance of contracting the disease, according to the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies in Dubai.
The prevalence in the Gulf region of marriages between cousins or relatives - around half of the total - makes this more likely than in some other cultures. Those who suffer from the illness must have blood transfusions every three to six weeks, at a cost of around Dh30,000 a year. firstname.lastname@example.org