Sickle cell anaemia detection to be intensified: Health Minister
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Sickle cell anaemia detection to be intensified: Health Minister

June 19, 2024

Mysore/Mysuru: Health and Family Welfare Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said that to eliminate sickle cell anaemia in Karnataka, the Health Department is taking measures to screen three lakh people in tribal areas and create more awareness.  

Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic disease. It results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein haemoglobin found in red blood cells, leading to a rigid, sickle-like shape under certain circumstances. It affects the whole life of the affected patient and is more common in the tribal population but occurs in non-tribals too. 

Dinesh Gundu Rao was speaking at the State-level ‘Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission’ held this morning at the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) Hall. The event was organised to assess the progress of the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission (NSCEM) launched in July 2023 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Implemented in 17 high-focus States across the country including Karnataka, this programme aims to improve the care and prospects of all sickle cell disease patients while reducing the prevalence of the disease and it aims to eliminate sickle cell genetic transmission by the year 2047. 

Campaign in seven districts 

In alignment with the NSCEM, Karnataka has been taking steps towards reducing the incidence of such cases and providing trait genetic counselling to beneficiaries. Under the campaign launched in seven districts – Chamarajanagar, Mysuru, Kodagu, Udupi, Chikkamagaluru, Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada — where 3,52,187 tribals reside, disease screening is being done in phases, the Minister said. 

In the Mysuru district, of the target population of 1,55,187 tribals, 14,150 have been screened and 630 have been found positive. They are non-serious cases and could be treated. 86 tribals have been detected with serious sickle cell anaemia and require medical intervention, the Minister noted.

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Sophisticated machine released

Dinesh Gundu Rao released a machine developed by Prof. Sai Shivamurthy from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.), Bengaluru to detect sickle cell anaemia disease. The Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) has sponsored the mass manufacture of the machines under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. 

With one drop of blood, the machine can detect multiple ailments, the Minister said and added that such machines will be made available at all Taluk Hospitals and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) where the disease is prevalent. The Minister also distributed health cards to a section of tribal kids from H.D. Kote.

Marriage and disease spread

In his address, Deputy Commissioner Dr. K.V. Rajendra said that, as sickle cell disease is genetic, tribals must essentially get a disease-free certificate before marrying anyone.

“If the certification process is rigorously practised by tribals, the disease can be eliminated to a large extent,” he opined. The DC also called upon the tribal population to get themselves checked regularly at PHCs and Taluk Hospitals for any ailment, even simple body aches. 

Mysuru-Kodagu MP-elect Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, MLA K. Harishgowda, NSCEM Karnataka Mission Director Dr. Naveen Bhat, ZP CEO K.M. Gayathri, Project Director, Reproductive and Child Health G.N. Srinivas, Deputy Director of Blood Banks Dr. N. Shakeela, Mysuru District Health Officer Dr. P.C. Kumaraswamy, Regional Deputy Director of Health and Family Welfare Department Dr. Mallika and Dr. K.H. Prasad, IISc. Bengaluru Scientist Prof. Sai Shivamurthy, IOCL Marketing Head R.N. Dubey were present.

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