Centre aims to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047
As part of the Union Budget 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government will launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia in the country by 2047. Along with awareness creation, the program will involve screening seven crore people in the age group of 0-40 years in tribal areas. Let's find out more about this blood disorder.
Why does this story matter?
- Sickle cell disease (SCD) is widespread among the tribal population in India.
- The mission to eradicate SCD by 2047 has been lauded as a "bold step" by medical experts who say that such a move from the government would lead to more inclusive development.
- The program would entail "counseling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments."
What is sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell anemia is a form of genetic blood disorder that affects the red blood cells (RBCs). It's the most common form of SCD. The affected individuals have abnormal hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen. As a result, the RBCs become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called the "sickle," whereas healthy RBCs are disc-shaped and flexible.
Sickle cell anemia can cause stroke
The sickle cells die early, and this causes a constant shortage of RBCs, subsequently leading to anemia, a condition where there is an inadequate supply of oxygen to the tissues. Also, when sickle cells travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and hinder blood flow. This can cause serious complications like stroke, eye problems, infections, and episodes of pain called pain crises.
Affected individuals display symptoms in childhood
Typically, individuals affected by SCD display symptoms of the disease during the first year of life, usually around five months of age. The symptoms and complications of SCD vary from person to person and it can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include extreme tiredness, fussiness, and painfully swollen hands/feet. The disease can have an effect on growth and puberty as well.
Stem cell or bone marrow transplants can cure the disease
A blood test can determine if you have SCD. As of now, there is no cure for sickle cell anemia. The only treatment approved by the FDA that may be able to cure SCD is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.