Pediatric Consultant Hematology Hospital. Kariadi Semarang dr. Bambang Sudarmanto, Sp.A(K), MARS explained, thalassemia is divided into alpha thalassemia and beta thalassemia. Children who suffer from thalassemia will experience a deficiency in hemoglobin (Hb) levels which is called anemia.
“This anemia can cause the body, especially important organs such as the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and others to lack oxygen because hemoglobin functions to transport oxygen that is inhaled when we breathe. As a result, children’s growth and development will be disrupted, affecting the productivity of learning, working, and quality of life,” said dr. Bambang in a Virtual Media Briefing with the theme “Life in Peace with Thalassemia” which was initiated by PT Kalbe Farma, recently.
In Indonesia, continued dr. Bambang, it is estimated that the carrier frequency of alpha thalassemia is 2.6%-11%, beta-thalassemia is 3%-10%, and other variants of HbE thalassemia reach 1.6%-33% of the total population of 256 million people.
Every year it is estimated that 2,500 babies are born with thalassemia major. Currently the treatment of thalassemia can be done with red blood transfusions. Blood transfusions are given to children with hemoglobin levels less than 7 g/dL at the beginning of diagnosis, and should be done routinely with a span of 2-4 weeks.
“In general, after 20 blood transfusions, children will experience iron overload. This excess iron will accumulate in important organs of the body including the brain, pancreas, heart, liver, kidneys, and other important organs that can lead to heart failure, liver cirrhosis, diabetes mellitus, kidney disorders, and death. Therefore, this excess iron must be removed from the body by giving iron chelation treatment,” explained Dr. Bambang.
Obedience people with thalassemia in taking the drug is very influential on the success of this iron chelation treatment. In addition, people with thalassemia are also recommended to eat vegetables and fruits that contain lots of nutrients and vitamins (folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C).
In the end, adherence to treatment, family support (caregiver), access to health services, and continuous education play an important role for patients to be able to live at peace with thalassemia disease. People with thalassemia require early treatment and regular therapy in order to have a quality life.
PT Kalbe Farma is one of the parties that continues to show commitment to supporting public health, including rare diseases, one of which is thalassemia. Kalbe itself has produced iron chelation products in Indonesia so that iron chelation drugs are more accessible and affordable.
This pharmaceutical company is also concerned with increasing public awareness of the benefits and importance of blood donation, as well as understanding that thalassemia can be prevented.