High Aplastic Anemia Incidence in Pakistan - Warns Experts


by Iqra Zafar

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Health experts warn about the high incidence of aplastic anemia in Pakistan as compared to Western countries. The risk factors associated with the onset of the disease include exposure to pesticides, chemicals, medications, and genetic and environmental factors.

Aplastic anemia, as known as bone marrow failure, is a rare form of anemia. This is a blood disease in which your bone marrow is not capable of making new blood cells. The fatality rate of aplastic anemia rate is very high. The treatment of aplastic anemia is possible through a bone marrow transplant which is a very expensive treatment.

Health experts recently warned about the high incidence of aplastic anemia in Pakistan as compared to Western countries. They were addressing the 3rd National Symposium on Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the Children’s Hospital Karachi. The symposium was attended by health specialists and pharmacists from all over the country.

Speaking at the symposium, pediatric hematologist Dr Saqib Husain Ansar said that the disease incidence in Pakistan is even higher when compared to neighboring countries such as India, Bangladesh etc. According to the speaker, a lot of environmental factors such as medicine, toxin exposure, pesticide and radiation exposure are the leading causes of aplastic anemia.


Speaking about the condition, Dr Saqib said, “If one person is diagnosed with aplastic anemia in six months at a healthcare facility in any Western country, we see over 125 to 150 such patients in the same period at our health facilities. In addition to genetic causes, there are some environmental factors behind this disease, which need to be probed as its treatment is bone marrow transplant, which is very expensive and not everybody can afford it.”

Addressing the situation, Umaima Muzammil an eminent pharmacist said, “We are also manufacturing several herbal medicines for which we have no safety data. Some of the allopathic drugs are known for causing Aplastic anemia while herbal, Unani and Hakeemi medicines also contain compounds which could suppress bone marrow and cause such blood disorders.”

Many factors affect the onset of disease. It can be diet or any other environmental factors that can be still identified. There is extensive research required in this regard.

“As far as thalassaemia is concerned, we know that if two thalassaemia minor people marry each other, there is a 25 per cent chance that they child would be thalassaemia major,” said Prof Dr Farrukh Ali Khan, Health of Clinical Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation at Dow University of Health Science (DUHS).