Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, also called G6PD deficiency, is an inherited condition and the most common human enzyme defect. It is characterised by low levels of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, one of the many enzymes involved in the processing of carbohydrates into energy and helping protect red blood cells against harmful byproducts when the body fights infection or when a person takes certain medication. G6PD deficient individuals are mostly asymptomatic but are at risk of hemolytic anaemia usually after the patient is exposed to infections as well as certain foods and medications, including painkillers, certain antibiotics, and fever-inducing drugs. When exposed to certain triggers, the patient may exhibit symptoms, such as paleness, rapid heartbeat, extreme tiredness, and an enlarged spleen.
Many children from different parts of the world are G6PD deficient. However, due to the lack of screening and diagnostic tests at many medical facilities, many of them remain undiagnosed until they exhibit serious symptoms.
Patients who are suspected of having this condition due to family history or other factors, can be brought to Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia where many doctors are fully trained to diagnose and manage the condition. Many hospitals from these Southeast Asian countries are fully equipped with advanced diagnostic tools and have dedicated paediatrics departments that offer G6PD deficiency screening as soon as the baby is born. This is important so parents can have a list of all triggers so they can be avoided. Meanwhile, G6PD deficient patients who are exhibiting serious health problems are offered comprehensive treatment in these countries. Treatment options, which depend on the severity of the condition, range from oxygen and fluid therapy to blood cell transfusion.