A NEW prestigious award worth US $1m has been established for individuals who make a significant contribution to the field of thalassaemia – the Sheikh Sultan International Thalassaemia Award.

According to the Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF), the son of the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, is responsible for the establishment of this unprecedented award.

TIF notes that the sheikh “has and continues to relentlessly fight in favour of the creation and materialisation of effective means of management and control of thalassaemia and against the further spread of the disease”.

As the major financial sponsor of the award, the sheikh has chosen the Cyprus-based TIF to be the award committee’s main expert partner and advisor. TIF President Panos Englezos has been appointed as Vice-President of the Award’s Administrative Board of Trustees.

The award, which will exceed one million US dollars, will be presented every two years to local and international groups, individuals and/or institutions who are actively involved and provide significant contribution in the areas of research, support, prevention and control of thalassaemia.

The awardees will be announced during the biennial international thalassaemia conferences organised by TIF, whereas the award ceremony will be held in Abu Dhabi.

TIF described the award as “an immense achievement”, as it will serve to raise public awareness about thalassaemia and other haemoglobin disorders.

“The United Arab Emirates present an exemplary picture, both in the area of medical advancements and in the management of thalassaemia. Therefore it is entirely timely and appropriate that an international award is established in this country and region,” said a TIF announcement.

The aim behind the award is to make inroads in educating the public, creating competitiveness, and providing motivation and encouragement to all essential stakeholders in the field of thalassaemia, said TIF.

Thalassemia is an inherited autosomal recessive blood disease that originated in the Mediterranean region. In thalassemia the genetic defect, which could be either mutation or deletion, results in reduced rate of synthesis or no synthesis of one of the globin chains that make up hemoglobin. This can cause the formation of abnormal hemoglobin molecules, thus causing anemia, the characteristic presenting symptom of the thalassemias.

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