World Health Day: Experts call for equitable access to healthcare for blood cancer and blood disorder patients

World Health Day: Experts call for equitable access to healthcare for blood cancer and blood disorder patients

MUMBAI, 6 April 2024: 25-year-old Puneeth suffered from thalassemia major, which is a genetic blood disorder characterized by abnormal hemoglobin production and low production of red blood cells since he was only nine. Battling with thalassemia as a child came with multifaceted challenges in Puneeth’s day-to-day activities.

Since Puneeth was diagnosed with this disease in 2008, he has undergone blood transfusions at a charitable hospital regularly. A stem cell transplant was the only curative treatment option for Puneeth’s condition. It was only in 2020 when a Hospital in Bangalore conducted a free HLA typing camp in association with DKMS-BMST at their center, where Puneeth and his elder brother Prajwal gave their cheek swab sample for HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) typing. The result showed that Puneet found a perfect match with his brother.

However, owing to financial constraints, his family was hesitant towards the transplantation. This is where the DKMS BMST Patient Funding program stepped in to help Puneeth successfully undergo his transplant in September 2022 and receive a second chance at life. The transplant yielded success, and the family now looks forward to a positive future ahead.

Puneeth was fortunate enough to find a matching donor in his family, whereas over 70% of the patients diagnosed with blood cancer or blood disorder are unable to find a match and urgently need a matching unrelated donor. DKMS-BMST has a mission to give such patients a second chance at life by registering potential stem cell donors from across India.

Dr. Santanu Sen, Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist and hemato-oncologist, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Andheri Mumbai, said, “In India, over 100,000 cases of blood cancer and blood disorders like Thalassemia and Aplastic Anemia are diagnosed annually. Stem cell transplants offer a ray of hope for patients battling such diseases, providing them with a chance for a renewed lease on life. However, accessibility to combat such life-threatening diseases often remains a challenge, especially for the economically underprivileged sections of society. Initiatives like DKMS-BMST Thalassemia and patient funding programs provide great support to these people and help them get access to lifesaving transplantation.”

Patrick Paul, CEO of DKMS BMST Foundation India, said, “Aligned with the theme of World Health Day “My Health, My Right,” we believe that everyone, regardless of background or circumstance, deserves access to quality health services, information, and the resources needed to live a healthy life. Through Patient funding and Thalassemia programs, DKMS-BMST has been instrumental in democratizing access to stem cell transplantations nationwide. To achieve this, we have created an effective and streamlined program structure so we can help as many patients in need as possible. By alleviating financial constraints and fostering collaborations within the healthcare sector, we strive to empower individuals like Puneeth with the opportunity for enhanced quality of life and renewed hope.”

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