In Eastern and Southern regions of Saudi Arabia the prevalence of Hemoglobinopathies such as sickle cell Anaemia and Thalassemia are so common, since 90% of the men with such genetic disorders insist on marrying first cousins.
Children born with genetic disorders such as sickle cell anaemia and Thalassinemia suffer severe complications & birth defects and also become an annual liability to the nation, by incurring an expense of 100,000 Saudi Riyals for their sustenance.
Thus, the government of the Kingdom has set up the Al-Ghamdi program aimed to curtail the spread of genetic and infectious diseases through marriages between affected individuals. This program intends to avoid psychological and social trauma encountered by families in sustaining sick children at home.
In Saudi the couples with genetic disorders often enter into wed-lock just in adherence to prevalent traditional norms. They were not obliged to any pre-marital test to check for genetic disorders in the past that will give them some clarity on consequences of their marriages. This program will definitely be a real eye-opener for them to be aware of their genetic predisposition before they tie a knot.
Thus, this program conducts pre- marriage lab test to let the couple know about their status on genetic disorders and other infectious diseases. If the status is confirmed to be negative then a certificate is issued to continue with wedding bells, if in case of any underlying genetic disorder in the trail, the couple are referred to a specialist clinic where they will be advised on various consequences of their marriage.
In Saudi alone there are more than 91 laboratories, 80 clinics, 130 counselling centres set up for the to-be couples to get help. The centres are staffed by more than 1,120 workers who target to reach almost 90% of the prospective couples with just 60% of the populace covered till date through the program.
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