Dec 16, Colombo: The Health Ministry of Sri Lanka has recorded an increase in the number of thalassemia patients in the country.
Deputy Health Minister Lalith Dissanayake has told parliament that the number of thalassemia patients has increased and the latest statistics indicate that there are 4,924 patients in the country.
The Deputy Minister in response to a question posed by United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa has said that there were 2,094 patients on record in 2005 but since then the number has increased to 4,924 by 2010.
The disease, according to the Health Ministry, is most prevalent in the Kurunegala, Kandy, Puttalam, Badulla, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Matale, and Nuwara Eliya districts.
The highest number of patients has been recorded from the Kurunegala District.
The Deputy Minister said that there is no cure for the disease except for treating patients with regular blood transfusions and iron chelating injections. However, the government expects to introduce bone marrow transplants as an effective treatment, the Minister said.
According to the Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena the government spends over Rs. 1.5 billion to treat thalassemia patients annually and the health authorities have taken measures to eradicate the hereditary disease by 2015 by screening individuals to identify carriers of the disease before marriage.