Sickle cell patients number rising globally: Experts

Monday, November 22, 2010

RAIPUR - The number of patients suffering from sickle cell anaemia - a form of blood disorder - are increasing across the world due to lack of awareness about it, experts at an international meet here on the disease said Monday.

Citing the lack of screening facilities in interior areas as well as less awareness about the disease, the experts suggested that a time-bound strategy be worked out to reach out to the rural patients so that they can’t transmit the disease to the next generation.

They said thousands of people were succumbing to sickle cell anaemia annually in poor countries because most of the patients who live in illiteracy-hit pockets are not turning up at health centres for blood tests and thus end up passing on the disease to their children.

The six-day 4th International Sickle Cell Congress was inaugurated by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in the presence of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Governor Shekhar Dutt and state Health Minister Amar Agrawal.

Over 250 experts from India and abroad are attending the convention is being organised by the Sickle Cell Disease International Organisation and the Chhattisgarh government.

Around 15-18 percent of the Chhattisgarh’s 20.08 million population is affected by the disease. More than 50 percent of the affected children in the state die before the age of five.

Experts from Chhattisgarh confessed that though the disorder is prevalent in all the 18 districts of the state, it is alarming in 10 of them which have a high population of certain Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities and tribes. The main bottleneck to tackle the disease is that rural masses are not much aware about it, they admitted.

P.K. Patra, head of the state government’s Centre for Genetic Diseases and Molecular Biology, said: “The sickle cell disorder is an inherited genetic lifelong blood disorder characterised by red blood cells assuming an abnormal, rigid, sickle shape. Sickling decreases the cell’s flexibility and results in a risk of serious complications.”

“Chhattisgarh should be considered a nucleus of the sickle cell disorder in India, though it is also prevalent in Maharashtra, Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Andhra Pradesh,” he added.

Filed under: Medicine

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