Decide on free care for all thalassaemic children: HC
The high cour t on Friday directed the Punjab government to take a considered decision with reasons within a month on extending free healthcare facilities to thalassemic children studying in private schools as well. The state already provides this facility to government school students.
Thalassemia is a genetic disorder of the haemoglobin that results in reduced haemoglobin content in red blood cells leading to severe anaemia from early childhood.
Children suffering from this disease are sustained with frequent blood transfusions maintaining their haemoglobin at a functional level.
A public interest litigation filed by Patiala Thalassemic Children Welfare Association came up for hearing on Friday before the division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Arun Palli. The court expressed, “We are sure that the matter will receive appropriate attention, especially when now the students from economically weaker sections are being admitted to private schools.”
It is estimated that 10,000 to 12,000 children with severe disease are born annually in India, and around 4% Punjabi population carries the thalassemia gene, submitted the petitioner association.
It was added that there are a total of 198 children suffering from thalassemia re gistered with the association and only 55 children are going to government and gover nment-aided schools who are entitled to free treatment.
It was also submitted that after the Right to Education Act, economically weaker sections of society are now sending their children also to private schools.
Appearing for the association, advocate Veena Kumari had sought extension of free healthcare, including tests, blood transfusion, drugs necessary for removal of the sideeffects of blood transfusion, to all children suffering from thalassemia.
She had also sought an extension of the relief to the persons lifelong, since thalassemia is a lifelong disease while the state government stops support to the children after they turn 18. Directions were also sought to start a public campaign to educate people, including pre-marital screening and counselling, that the disease is genetic.