The Union Health Ministry has initiated a project to provide treatment to 200 children suffering from thalassaemia in the current financial year with Coal India funding it. For this purpose, the government has identified four hospitals across the country where bone marrow transplant along with post-surgery treatment will be carried out. The cost of the total procedure is Rs 10 lakh and it will be borne by Coal India, a health ministry official said. The four institutions which have identified are Tata Medical Centre in Kolkata, CMC Vellore, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre and AIIMS in New Delhi.
The project will benefit underprivileged thalassaemia patients who have a matched sibling donor and are therefore eligible for bone marrow transplantation but do not have financial resources for the same. “Only patients whose monthly family income is below Rs 20,000 will be eligible for this assistance,” the official said. “Initially, the project will be initiated at four centres and gradually it may be extended to six more centres so that the waiting time for patients is reduced. Each centre should have performed at least five bone marrow transplants in a year for thalassaemia patients,” the official said.
An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 children are born with thalassaemia every year in the country. “The only curative treatment for these children is bone marrow transplant which is quite an expensive and costs around 22-25 lakhs in private facilities,” a senior doctor at AIIMS said. Coal India, under its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, has agreed to provide financial support of Rs 10 lakh for each children undergoing the treatment, the official said.
According to the official, the health ministry held meetings with institutions offering this treatment to reduce the price for bone marrow transplant and finally the four facilities were selected. In the first phase, treatment of 200 children will be funded under this initiative.