Kanakia Health Care, Mumbai, has created a program called STOP THAL under the guidance of Dr Swati Kanakia, a paediatric haemato-oncologist with a PhD in Thalassemia from Mumbai University. STOP THAL, Screening for Thalassemia and Opting for PREVENTION, is aimed at preventing thalassemia major cases in an effort to reduce the disease burden. Dr Kanakia firmly believes that the only way to reduce thalassemia major cases is by prevention.
However, how does one suspect thalassemia? The “Magic Mantra” for considering thalassemia minor is low or normal hemoglobin, high RBC count, microcytosis and a normal RDW. This is followed up by hemoglobin electrophoresis, which detects only beta thalassemia. If there is a strong suspicion of thalassemia despite a normal Hb electrophoresis, mutations for the alpha thalassemia gene may be carried out to clinch the diagnosis.
Each and every doctor can play a pivotal role by considering thalassemia on a regular CBC report done for any reason. Dr Kanakia hopes that STOP THAL will prove to be useful in reducing thalassemia major cases. The program, available at http://kanakiahealthcare.com/stopthal/, helps one to estimate the chances of having a completely normal, thalassemia minor, or thalassemia major child. It will be an important asset to increase awareness amongst thalassemia patients, and doctors may use it as an aid for patient education.