Rotarians address Thalassemia

The  Rotary Wall City Thalassemia Centre, Bhuj is a place of fun for 5-year-old Garva Uday. “Of course the needle prick hurts me, but nurse aunty gives me toys and plays my favourite rhymes too,” he says. Every year approximately 100,000 children across the world are born with thalassemia, of which 10,000 are born in India. “As per the records from the District Health Officer more than 350 cases have been reported in Bhuj district and most of these children are from very poor families,” says Rtn Amit Chauhan, member of RC Bhuj Wall City, D 3051.

Baby Garva Uday being treated at the Thalassemia Centre.

The club has been endorsing thalassemia awareness as its prime project from its charter year (2006). Thalassemia is a form of inherited blood disorder where abnormal formation of haemoglobin results in improper oxygen transport and destruction of red blood cells. It can cause complications like iron overload, bone deformities, and cardiovascular disorders. Patients with thalassemia might need transfusion as frequently as once a week. The cost could be between Rs 750 to 2,000 per unit of blood, making it impossible for the economically weak to afford treatment.

The cost of prevention of the disorder is 10 times less compared to  the cost of treatment.

The ward
In 2014, PDG Dr Gyaneshwar Rao, who is also the Medical Director of GAIMS (Gujarat Adani Institute of Medical Science), offered the club an exclusive ward in the Bhuj Civil ­Hospital for developing a ­thalassemia centre. During Navratri 2014, a ­Dandiya event organised by the club raised Rs 7 lakh that was used in the development of the centre.

On the eve of the Rotary Year 2015-2016 the club inaugurated a state-of-the-art thalassemia centre for children. The ward is maintained by the medical staff from GAIMS. “We have tried to create a happy atmosphere at the ward. Bright coloured walls, an LED TV, video games, toys, recliner beds … now attracts even those who were getting treatment from private ­hospitals,” says Chauhan. The staff members are warm and striking animated ­conversations with the children, using puppets, is part of their job description. “When you pass by our ward, you will always hear a cackle,” says the ward in-charge Neeta Soni.

EEE approach
While the ward is taking care of the children suffering from this severe ­disorder, the Rotarians have taken it upon themselves to Examine, Explain and Educate the society on ­thalassemia.  According to the club’s inputs from their research over the last 10 years preventive measures at a national level will be cost-effective.  The cost of prevention of the disorder is 10 times less compared to  the cost of treatment.  The need for better strategies and novel ­interventions to combat thalassemia is now gaining momentum in our country and RC Bhuj Wall City is happy that they have laid a strong foundation.

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