Patients urged to avoid fasting during Ramadan
Manama, June 24, 2014
People suffering from hereditary blood disease are being urged not to fast during Ramadan due concerns that it could be lethal.
The Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care is warning that dehydration is a major concern for such patients, particularly as the Muslim holy month coincides with the peak of summer, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It is now planning an awareness drive to educate sickle cell anaemia sufferers about the risks of not drinking fluids and following a healthy diet.
"Dehydration is the number one enemy of sickle cell patients," said society president Zakreya Al Kadhem.
Doctors advise sickle cell anaemia patients to stay hydrated to reduce pain and complications associated with the illness, since most patients are already mildly dehydrated.
"During summer, if they are fasting for longer hours, the situation can be worse or even fatal," warned Al Kadhem.
The society has already recorded 25 deaths among sickle cell patients since the start of the year, but fears a spate of fatalities in the hot summer months.
"Keeping this in mind, we want to make sure these deaths stop and the only way to do this is by asking people not to fast this Ramadan," he said.
During Ramadan Muslims are supposed to abstain from food, drink, sex and smoking during daylight hours to cleanse their bodies and minds, bringing them closer to God and allowing them to experience what it means to go without.
However, Mr Al Kadhem revealed he had not fasted for three years because of his own sickle cell anaemia condition that required him to take medication and receive medical treatment.
"If a doctor has clearly told a patient that he or she cannot fast, then these individuals should strictly follow their doctor's instructions," he said.
"It is haram (forbidden by Islam) to go against the advice of a doctor in this case.
"Families tend to pressure patients to continue with their fast, but this is illogical. How will they feel if this person ends up at the hospital?"
Muharraq-based Sunni Islamic scholar Shaikh Salah Al Jowder confirmed that ill people need not fast during Ramadan.
"Muslims can skip their fast if they are sick or when they are travelling," he said.
"If a doctor advises a patient, including those suffering from sickle cell, not to fast then they should follow this advice because it can affect their health condition and lead to death otherwise."
However, he added that such people could make up for it later by fasting another time or by donating money.
"They have to pay some money to the poor or needy," he explained.
"They have to pay BD1.500 ($3.9) for every day they did not fast and this comes to BD45 for 30 days."
Patients with sickle cell anaemia have abnormal haemoglobin molecules and there is no known cure for the condition, which can often be extremely painful, decreases life expectancy and increases the risk of life-threatening complications.
Thirty-two people died from sickle cell complications last year compared to 45 in 2012. - TradeArabia News Service