Home / Budget / News /  Govt to offer sickle cell anemia status cards to tribal people below 40 years, initiate testing from Chhattisgarh

NEW DELHI, UNION BUDGET 2023 : In a bid to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2027 in a mission mode, the Central government may soon initiate the testing of tribal people aged below 40 years to monitor their sickle cell anemia status. The government will provide cards to the tribal community mentioning their disease status. 

The aim is to raise pre-marital counselling to the vulnerable population about the risk a having a child positive with sickle cell anemia if the couple is already affected with sickle cell disease. 

For this, the Union health ministry along with the ministry of tribal affairs have prepared a roadmap to screen approx. 7 crore tribal people less than 40 years of age in about 200 districts where large number of cases are reported. The first such screening would start from Chhattisgarh in the coming days. 

This comes in the backdrop of the union budget 2023 presented by union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announcing a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047. 

“This programe will entail awareness creation and universal screening of 7 crore people in 0 - 40 years in affected tribal areas, and counselling," said Sitharaman during the budget speech. 

“The government will provide cards to the tribal people below 40 years of age. This will help to determine their sickle cell anemia or status. The card will also hold pre-marital counselling for people at risk. If they marry another sickle cell anemia patient and it is likely that they would have a child affected with sickle cell disease," said Mansukh Mandaviya, union health minister adding that the screening aims to reduce the prevalence of the disease from the country. 

The screening will be done using the rapid “point of care" histological test for which a person will just have to give blood. 

Doctors said that Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a common blood disorder with a high prevalence especially in the central and western regions of the country, and poses a considerable health burden. 

“Sickle cell anemia is highly neglected disorder and India is the 2nd largest country to have the burden of the disease. Symptoms are identified in children as small as 4 months. Lack of awareness towards the disease resulting in high disease burden in various parts of our country. Spreading awareness about this disabling disease is the need of the hour and as a gynecologists‘, I am with the government in this direction," said Dr. Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynecologist, Obstetrician and IVF Expert, Nurture Clinic. 

The union budget also announced of the setting up 157 nursing colleges in the core locations of the existing 157 medical colleges. 

Dr Aashish Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Healthcare applauded the Union Budget 2023 on healthcare sector. “The announcement of setting up 157 Nursing Colleges in the core locations of the existing 157 medical colleges is a step in the right direction at improving the nurse-patient ratio in the country." 

In addition to this, the government has also announced making the facilities in select Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laboratories for research by public and private medical college faculty members and private sector research and development teams will encourage research and innovation.

Priyanka Sharma
Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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