Hemophilia is a rare, inherited bleeding disorder. The condition prevents blood from clotting properly, leading to excessive bleeding and hemorrhages. Hemophilia is caused by low levels of clotting factors such as factor VIII or factor IX in the blood. This may cause spontaneous bleeds (both internal and external) or may cause difficultly in clotting following an injury, a trauma or a surgery. The severity of the disorder can be determined by the levels of clotting factors in the blood.
Hemophilia is caused by the mutation of the genes that control the production of proteins that form clotting factors. It is a genetic or an inherited disorder that is passed on from parent to child. While there are several types of hemophilia, Hemophilia A (Classic Hemophilia) caused by low levels of clotting factor VIII and Hemophilia B (Christmas Disease) caused by low levels of clotting factor IX are the most common.
17 April of each year is World Hemophilia Day. It is an international awareness day dedicated to raising awareness of hemophilia and other inherited bleeding disorders (such as Von Willebrand disease). The first commemoration of World Hemophilia Day was held in 1989 by the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH). This date was chosen in honor of the founder of WFH Frank Schnabel. Since then, each year, the global community has come together to raise awareness of these bleeding disorders, the importance of an early diagnosis, and available treatments. World Hemophilia Day is an important effort in providing millions the access to the right diagnosis and treatment.
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent strain on the medical community has increased the challenges faced by those suffering from hemophilia and other bleeding disorders. The World Hemophilia Day 2021 theme, “Adapting to Change”, reflects the need to adapt to the changing scenario and the need to make provisions for providing those with bleeding disorders access to medical aid, despite the pandemic.
One of the greatest challenges faced by those suffering from hemophilia is access to blood banks and safe blood transfusions. Furthermore, clotting factors replacement therapy in those suffering from hemophilia leaves them greatly vulnerable to infections and diseases transmitted through transfusion. This could be through ineffective screening, infected syringe needles or IV cannula sets.