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The campaign was launched on Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) on 20 April across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharja and Al Fujairah. Established in 1988, Global Youth Service Day is the largest and longest-running service event in the world simultaneously celebrated in over 100 countries. It is also the only day that is fully dedicated to children and youth aged 5-25 years.
The UAE-wide initiative successfully raised public awareness about the disease and inspired the community to join the fight against thalassemia.
A key highlight of the campaign was an entertainment day hosted by Takatof volunteers in Dubai. Featuring special activities and competitions designed to entertain patients and their families, the endeavour offered an understanding of the disease and its implications through highlighting key facts.
Commenting on the campaign, Maytha Al Habsi, CEO of the Emirates Foundation Programmes Department and Director of the Takatof Programme, said: "The campaign attracted a large number of volunteers from across the UAE. Not only did they help organize the event and raise awareness about thalassemia, the participants also donated blood in aid of thalassemia patients.
"The huge volunteer turnout reflects the participants' great sense of responsibility and high motivational levels to interact with their local communities and help them address life-impacting challenges."
Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder that reduces the number of normal blood cells in the body. In theUAE, approximately 600,000 people are carriers of the disease. The number is anticipated to grow to one million, according to the Thalassemia Centre of Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Each patient requires approximately 34 units of blood annually through an average of 17 transfusions.
Fatima Khalifa Al Manna'i, a Takatof volunteer, said: "It was a privilege to be a part of the campaign's organizing team. The initiative gave us an opportunity to be actively involved in the daily challenges faced by patients and their families and support them in the way they deal with the syndrome."
Each year, millions of children and youth around the world work together with schools, youth organizations, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, volunteer and national service programs, government agencies, faith communities, and other individuals to address the world's most critical issues and change their communities on Global Youth Service Day.