Thursday, 19 February 2015

1.8 million Unfit for Marriage in Pre-Marital Exam in KSA

The branch of genetic engineering has advanced a lot creating opportunities and new possibilities to protect the spread of various disease that pass on to next generation creating misery. There is therefore considerable pressure put on couples so that they undergo pre-marital medical exam just to protect such future issues with their children. Countries in the Arab world such as Syria, Morocco, the UAE, as well as Saudi Arabia encourages its citizens to go for this pre-medical exam before marriage due to which many marriages are cancelled when the reports didn’t show up to be sufficient compatibility.

Genetic diseases these days are widespread in the society and one should take care of it and protect himself. Usually people seem to be fine but they do carry the gene for that particular disease, it is silent but present. He/she can easily pass that diseased gene to his children if married to a woman with the same diseased gene. This would result in abnormal child suffering from that debilitating disease. The officer in the Ministry of Health reported that almost 1.8 million couples cancelled their marriages in Saudi Arabia when found to be incompatible with their spouses. This is due to the vast population taking that pre-marital medical test from the past 11 years.  However, it does not mean that they cannot marry another person. They are incompatible for marriage with a particular male or female.

The test was introduced by the ministry in 2004 to prevent the transmission of such disease to the offspring and reduce the burden financially on those families as well as the Kingdom, because a handsome amount of money is spent to cure such genetic diseases.  Diseases included in the screening program are various hemoglobinopathies. For example thalassemia and sickle cell anemia which is very common in eastern and southern region of Saudi Arabia. Also screening for hepatitis B, C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was made mandatory in 2008. Annually about SR 100,000/patient is spent on such patients suffering from various hemoglobinopathies, SR 500,000/patient is spent annually on HIV patients and almost SR 100,000/patient is spent for bone marrow patients.

Due to increase in awareness about these disease and the money spent plus various labs and clinics throughout the Kingdom is leading to increase in the number of couples appearing for this test.  About 3,000,000 couples showed up in 130 centers including 91 laboratories and 80 clinics for counseling throughout the Kingdom last year. The couples are pressurized to appear for this test before marriage so that maximum chances are present for prevention of these genetic infectious diseases reaching to 90% of the population. 

They will know before hand of the risks and this will help broaden their choices resulting in a healthy newborn. If the results are good they are free to marry and plan conceptions safely under the light of genetic counseling and medical advice .It is reported by ministry of health that many of the couples opted out from marriages due to unsatisfactory results of the genetic test, preventing them to face unacceptable results in their children.

Source: Arab News

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