MOH News
Dr. Saeedi: 4.500 of Those Intending to Marry Responded Positively to Medical Advice, Refrained from Marriage
24 February 2015
 
The Director-General of Genetic and Chronic Diseases Control in the Ministry of Health (MOH), Dr. Muhammad Saeedi, said, in an explanation for the statistics issued by the Ministry on the Healthy Marriage Program, that the number of persons bound for marriage referred to medical advice clinics in the year 1434/1435H reached up to 7500. This is due to physical incompatibility; both partners are infected or carriers of the disease, or either of them is infected by the disease and the other carries the same disease. In doing so, they sought to receive advice and guidance about the seriousness of these diseases and the possibility of their transmission to their offspring.   
 
He said that the percentage of those who responded positively and voluntarily to the medical advice offered by the Healthy Marriage Program, and accordingly refrained from marriage, in response to the genetic advice clinics and health awareness activities supported by media, has amounted to 60% (4500), whilst the rest 40% (3000) have shown no response to the medical advice, and received physical incompatibility certificates.  
 
Within the same vein, Dr. Saeedi said the concept of physical incompatibility varies from one case to another. For instance, provided that both spouses are carriers of the disease (such as thalassemia or sickle cell anemia), the probability of each pregnancy will be 25% infected, 25% healthy and 50% carrier of the disease. If one spouse is infected and the other carrier of the disease, the probability of each pregnancy will be 50% infected and 50% carrier of the disease. Still, if both spouses are infected with, then all offspring will be infected as well.
   
In a similar fashion, Dr. Saeedi confirmed that refraining from marriage, based on the Program’s advice, is attributed to the great understanding and raised awareness shown by members of the society, adding that the Healthy Marriage Program receives about 270.000 – 300.000 persons a year.
 
He went on saying that the Ministry of Health (MOH) conducts premarital screening through the Healthy Marriage Program, which covers 5 diseases: namely, sickle-cell anemia, thalassemia, and hepatitis (B and C), in addition to HIV/AIDS. He pointed out that the incidence of the diseases covered since the inception of the program in 1425H is as follows: sickle-cell anemia reached 4.2% (disease carrier) and 0.3% (infected); thalassemia reached 1.5% (carrier) of  and 0.3% (infected); hepatitis B 1%, and hepatitis C 0.3%, while HIV/AIDS recorded 0.02%.
 
Dr. Saeedi made clear that the Healthy Marriage Program is concerned with providing information and medical advice related to the diseases and probability of their occurrence or transmission to the children, in addition to supporting individuals to take the proper decisions in this regard. He added that the medical advice, at the end of the day, is not obligatory. Rather, it provides guidance and advice for medically incompatible couples, meanwhile letting it entirely up to them whether or not to marry, no matter what the test result is. 
 
All the more, Dr. Saeedi explained that the concept of response to the medical advice means that partners who had been bound for marriage have voluntarily refrained from marriage showing their keenness not to have children infected with thalassemia or sickle cell anemia.
 
Moreover, Dr. Saeedi explained that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia aims to provide an international role model in applying the Healthy Marriage Program, with a view to building a society free from genetic diseases. To that end, royal directives have been made it mandatory for all those intending to marry to undergo premarital screening in order to ensure the safety of the family, and protect the coming generations against infectious diseases.   
 
It is noteworthy that the Healthy Marriage Program aims at limiting the spread of hereditary and infectious blood diseases, reducing the financial burdens of treatment, reducing the pressure on health institutions and blood banks, avoiding the mental and social problems caused by such diseases, encouraging people to have such tests and examinations (especially those unwilling and embarrassed), and raising people's awareness of the comprehensive healthy marriage.
 
 
 
 
 
 



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