World Thalassemia Day: History, theme, and significance
May 8 is dedicated to both commemorating the deceased thalassemia patients and celebrating patients who are alive and fighting the disease daily for a better life. Thalassemia International Federation (TIF) focuses on a different theme each year that intercedes with the quality treatment of patients. As of 2015, thalassemia occurs in almost 280 million people, with about 439,000 having a severe disorder.
Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder caused by decreased hemoglobin production. Alpha thalassemia occurs when genes related to the α-globin protein are missing or mutated. Beta thalassemia occurs when gene defects affect the production of the β-globin protein. At least one of the parents of a patient is a carrier. Although mild forms are treatable, severe forms require blood transfusions or donor stem-cell transplants.
The Thalassemia International Federation created May 8 as International Thalassemia Day in 1994. The day was declared in memory of George Englezos and thalassemia patients who achieved both personal and professional success despite combating the disease and the social stigma attached to it. George was a scientist and the son of TIF President and founder, Panos Englezos.
The theme for 2022 is—"Be Aware. Share. Care.: Working with the global community as one to improve thalassemia knowledge." By raising awareness about thalassemia across the world, we can help people understand why thalassemia is a global public health concern, and how it can be prevented, controlled, and treated. We must take action to create change and help address existing challenges for patients.
Thalassemia reduces the hemoglobin count and affects the production of red blood cells, which affects one's growth and makes one weak. This campaign aims to urge the youth to consult physicians before planning to have a child so that the spread of this deadly disorder can be curbed. It debunks myths associated with the illness stressing the importance of awareness and vaccination.