Bahrain rules out sickle cell ban on marriages
Manama, August 31, 2010
Bahrain has no plans to ban couples with genetic diseases from getting married, said atop official.
New cases are not a problem anymore so there is no reason to enforce such conditions on couples, said consultant geneticist and head of the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) genetics department Dr Shaikha Al Arrayed.
"Bahrain is already well on its way to completely eradicating the potentially deadly sickle cell disease and other genetic conditions in newborn babies and in the next few years there are expected to be no new cases," she said.
"The problem is that we have an issue with managing the patients and that is a challenge Bahrain is tackling."
However, Dr Al Arayyed said there would be compulsory counselling for such couples who planned to get married.
"They will be told of the risks and it is their own decision whether they wish to go ahead," she said.
Dr Al Arayyed said reports of Bahrain making such a decision were untrue and would contravene human rights. The compulsory counselling law came into effect in 2004 and up to then almost 80 per cent of couples with sickle cell had got married.
However, figures now show only 20 per cent of such couples tied the knot. Dr Al Arayyed said every human had between six and eight genetic conditions they were not aware of.
"These cause no problems whatsoever and it would be unrealistic to have them undergo tests as well," she said. – TradeArabia News Service