Associate Specialist at Maldivian Blood Services (MBS), Dr Ahmed Umar, disclosed the loss of a Maldivian thalassaemia patient following medical treatments that are currently unapproved by both World Health Organization (WHO) and Thalassaemia International Federation.
According to Dr Umar, an investigation into the 17-year-old's death had revealed that unapproved drugs were administered to the patient during the treatment process.
Umar explained that a number of Maldivians have sought the treatment from a hospital in India's Pune, although it does not meet global standards, in an attempt to sidestep official authorization.
About 8 to 9 drugs are administered to patients seeking such treatment from Pune, and Umar speculated that about 20 to 30 patients are currently on these medications.
"Some of the medicines help to retain the blood in the body for longer, allowing for less frequent transfusion. However, the drugs have never been tested and clinically approved", Umar stated.
Additionally, Umar explained that the usage of such medicines may potentially damage internal organs. Stating that the treatment plan was not practised in many countries, Umar referenced leading doctors in America and India.
"Certain tests must be carried out before any treatment is approved. However, these medications do not offer such guarantees. Doctors experiment (with these medications) however they see fit. We do not have the knowledge of what repercussions the drugs might carry", Umar said.
Typical treatments for thalassaemia include frequent blood transfusions, medication to lower the levels of iron in the body, and bone marrow transplants. In Maldives, treatment for thalassaemia patients is provided free of charge.
While a total of 880 patients are registered at Maldivian Blood Services, a total of 635 are currently living.