Governed by the conviction that country of birth or family income should not determine the life or death of a child, Hemoglobal® was registered as a charity to attempt to change a dismal prognosis for some of the world’s most vulnerable children – those with blood diseases. These children need expensive and complicated care, but effective treatment, including a cure in some, is possible.
Hemoglobal® began its work on the island of Sri Lanka many years ago. Currently, we work in both Sri Lanka and India, along with a few local dedicated physicians who care for thousands of children with blood diseases.
We started with thalassemia: The experience of children and their families dealing with this very common disease, the needs we recognized, and the insights gained over 18 years of work in thalassemia in Sri Lanka have made it possible for Hemoglobal to expand its work to assist children affected with other blood diseases and in other parts of Asia – particularly in Kolkata (Calcutta), India.
Our team visited thalassemia clinics around the country, provided detailed testing, assisted in the diagnosis of hundreds of patients, and worked to educate doctors around the country about thalassemia. Hemoglobal was formally registered to provide direct aid from international donors in the form of medical supplies and equipment, but also to organize local physicians and seek help from local governments.
On our early visits it became clear that while basic medicines were available, many children were not benefitting from optimal management. After support from the Wellcome Trust helped build this unit in 2001, Hemoglobal® continued to help supporting The National Thalassemia Center in Kurunegala, the city in Sri Lanka which now forms the hub of care for a large proportion of children with blood disorders in that country. The unit hosts a laboratory for blood sample analysis, a library of materials for doctors and patients, a hall for patient meetings and education sessions, and separate floors for pediatric and adolescent patient care. This building is an outward sign of the motivation and determination of the government and physicians of the country to promote care and management for blood disease. This building also signals the start of an effort, which we hope will continue for decades in an extension of collaboration and friendship.
Since our inaugural visit in 1995, the founders of Hemoglobal carry out field visits several times a year. Currently, Hemoglobal® is extending its work and aiming to provide such a center in India, beginning with assistance to our colleagues in Kolkata (Calcutta), where thousands of children affected with blood diseases and the dedicated health care staff can benefit from support.