Lawmakers on Thursday appealed to the public to give blood for thalassaemia sufferers needing regular blood transfusions.
The matter was discussed at the House health committee, reviewing the National Strategy for Thalassaermia and Other Haemoglobin Disorders, launched in February this year.
Miltos Miltiadous, head of the Cyprus Anti-Anaemia Association, called thalassaemia “the national disease of Cyprus” with 14 to 15 per cent of Cypriots being carriers.
That compares to seven per cent of the global population who are carriers of a severe haemoglobinopathy, or haemoglobin disorder.
Thalassaemia is an inherited genetic condition affecting the haemoglobin component of blood. It is prevalent in Mediterranean, African, and Asian countries.
Every month here some 2,000 bottles of blood are needed for thalassaemia patients. Currently 1,150 people suffer from the disease, of whom 650 require regular transfusions.
According to Miltiadous, blood needs at the moment happen to be very high, and as a result some scheduled transfusions have had to be postponed.
He also referred to a new medicine expected to assist in the treatment of thalassaemia patients by reducing the frequency of required transfusions.
The new medicine is under evaluation by the Health Insurance Organisation since the beginning of the year.
Whereas thalassaemia services are included in the national health system (Gesy), MPs said more could be done to ensure patients’ access to treatment.
Where thalassaemia patients are concerned, the main focus lies on on novel treatments and medicines, Miltiadous said.
On the societal aspect, he noted that one-third of thalassaemia sufferers are jobless, many for decades.
Akel MP Nicos Kettiros accused some private-sector employers of “racist behaviour” toward thalassaemia patients – not hiring them because of their condition.
Edek’s Andreas Apostolou said the cororavirus pandemic has caused problems in blood donations.
This was despite the fact Cyprus ranks first in terms of the ratio of blood donor volunteers per capita.