Tribal Ministry Organises Conclave for Awareness of Sickle Cell Disease

India plans to eradicate Sickle Cell Diseases from the country by 2047.

New Delhi: To mark the commemoration of World Sickle Cell Day 2024, Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) and the knowledge partner Birsa Munda Centre, AIIMS Delhi convened a National Conclave for awareness generation on Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The event brought together a group of experts to deliberate on ways to create awareness and halt intergenerational transmission of SCD. Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram and Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, D.D. Uikey graced the occasion with their presence.

The day also witnessed the initiation of a 2-week long awareness generation and screening drive across over 340 high SCD-incidence districts in 17 States across the country. On the first day of the campaign, over 25,000 events were organized across States, including close to 15,000 health camps in which around 11 lakh people participated. The mammoth exercise saw close to 4.6 lakh people getting counselled, around 1.53 lakh persons getting screened and over 1.64 lakh SCD cards getting distributed.

Addressing the media after the Inaugural session of the Conclave, Oram assured that the Government is committed to eradicate Sickle Cell Disease from India, by undertaking sustained nation-wide awareness generation and screening campaigns through coordinated efforts at grassroots level.

Jual Oram reminisced his experience of working for the eradication of SCD in Gujarat. He emphasized on working in a holistic manner, with the aid of various ministries and departments to raise awareness about the disease, especially in the affected tribal regions. The Minister further noted that while top experts and doctors will contribute to the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Eradication Mission, success will only be possible with the involvement of ground-level workers.

Minister of State, Uikey reiterated the need for a humanitarian approach to healthcare, and the importance of raising awareness about the disease, particularly among the youth. He expressed confidence that under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India would surely achieve success in eradicating Sickle Cell Diseases from the country by 2047.

Earlier in the inaugural session, Secretary (Tribal Affairs) Vibhu Nayar stated that as per tests conducted under the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission, 10% of those screened have been found to be sickle cell trait carriers and 1% are sickle cell diseased.  The Ministry plans to conduct further tests to identify more cases and provide necessary interventions. Dr. Naval Jit Kapoor, Addl. Secretary (Tribal Affairs) briefed the gathering on a 10-year road map to eradicate SCD by 2047. Prof. M. Srinivas, Director (AIIMS) apprised the participants that the Birsa Munda Centre is dedicated not only to screening of SCD but also imparts training to equip individuals to fight against the disease.

The Conclave featured an enlightened panel discussion on the challenges of fighting Sickle Cell Disease in India, which included senior officers of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and health experts from the haemetology department of AIIMS and other prominent institutions engaged in research on SCD.

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