Chhattisgarh seeks central help to battle sickle cell

The state government Monday briefed union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in New Delhi about the disease that has attained alarming proportions, a senior health official told IANS. Sickle cell anaemia is a disorder of the blood caused by inherited abnormal haemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells. More than 50 percent of affected children die before the age of five while many others lose their lives in the prime of their youth.

"The number of sickle cell anemia patients is drastically rising in the state, mainly in certain communities, and despite state government's best efforts the situation is alarming," the official said. "We need the central government's massive fund back-up to keep the disease under control and to reach the sickle cell carriers. We will treat them and provide them counselling so that they do not transmit the disease to their kids," he added.  

The Chhattisgarh government has set up a Centre for Genetic Diseases and Molecular Biology to control the disease. A Chhattisgarh Sickle Cell Screening Project has been launched to take blood samples.

"We are screening people in the age group of 3-15 across the state to detect the disease early. Though the disorder is prevalent in all 18 districts of the state, it is alarming in 10 of them that have a high population of Other Backward Classes (OBC) and tribes," Pradeep Kumar Patra, who heads the centre, said. "The problem in rural areas is that people are not much aware of the disease," he said.

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