Spotlight: Medical check-up before knot

Working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in terms of healthcare and Oman’s Vision 2020 goals of warding off hereditary diseases has always been on top of national priorities.
With this, the Sultanate is implementing premarital medical checks for hereditary diseases in order to identify the potential genetical issues that may arise out of a marriage.
To reduce the prevalence of genetic blood diseases in the country, the Ministry of Health has urged all youngsters to undergo a pre-marital medical examination.
The ministry said that all pre-marriage medical examinations will be treated confidentially and results will be disclosed only to the person applying for the examination.
The Council of Ministers recently gave its nod to the Ministry of Health, in coordination with the Ministry of Education and other relevant authorities, to conduct early medical tests of hereditary blood disorders for General Education Diploma students.
Reports from the Oman Hereditary Disorder Association (OHDA) suggest that at least 10 per cent of the Omani population carries a gene of blood disorders.
Figures show that 2 per cent of the total citizens have Beta Thalassemia traits, while 0.07 per cent are infected. However, 50 per cent of Omani population carries Alfa Thalassemia, which is a blood disorder that reduces the production of hemoglobin, the iron-containing protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells throughout the body. This type of blood disorder is seen mostly in Al Batinah North, Muscat and Al Dakhiliyah governorates.
The Health and Environmental Committee of the Majlis Ash’shura hosted specialists from the Ministry of Health and Sultan Qaboos University Hospital to listen to their views on the desire expressed by one of the members of the Majlis regarding the obligation to conduct a medical examination for hereditary diseases before marriage.
“Premarital medical checks are proposed for school students as a way to diagnose any potential genetic issues well in advance,” a source at the Ministry of Education, told the Observer.
Taking it forward, those who are about to get married too can get themselves checked against any hereditary diseases. According to the Majlis sources, this desire is expressed out of keenness to benefit from science and medicine in avoiding some genetic diseases for future generations, and early detection by subjecting those who are about to marry; and both sexes should undergo a medical examination.
The meeting, chaired by Ali bin Khalfan al Qutaiti, Head of the Committee, in the presence of the members of the committee, attendees listened to the views and opinions of specialists who emphasised the necessity of early examination, noting that some countries carry out early examination at birth, while others adhere to the examination upon entering school or just before marriage.
The meeting examined cases of genetic disorders born out of consanguineous marriages and other health, social, psychological and financial burdens due to the lack of medical examinations, besides the implications for the family and society. As a result of these burdens, the specialists noted the mandatory medical examination and the optional adoption of the result, provided that the parties are informed of the result and informed of the consequences resulting from the failure to take it.
At the same time, the members expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of adequate attention to the issue of genetic blood diseases by the relevant authorities.