Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Union Budget for 2023–2024, announced a mission to eliminate Sickle Cell Anaemia by 2047 that affects nearly a million people every year. Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) has a high prevalence in India, especially in the central and western regions, and creates a considerable health burden.
Speaking about what sickle cell anemia is and why the disease has gained so much importance, Dr Rajendra Patankar, CEO of Jupiter Hospital told The Daily Guardian said, “Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) has emerged as one of the most prevalent inherited blood disorders worldwide resulting from single DNA mutation within the beta-globin gene. With increasing control of infant mortality and infectious diseases, genetic diseases are assuming proportionately greater importance; the beta thalassemia and SCD contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality in India.”
Dr. Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Gynecologist, Fertility and IVF Expert, Nurture Clinic said, “Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a common blood disorder with over 20 million patients living with SCD in India posing a considerable health burden. A lack of awareness towards SCD is resulting in a high disease burden in various parts of our country.”
Dr Amardeep Kohli, CEO PSRI hospital, Delhi, while commending the Union Budget also expressed his happiness over the government addressing an important issue like that of Sickle Cell Anaemia, said, “From the purely medical sector point of view the establishment of 157 new nursing colleges is a big boost to the medical sector. Another big announcement is the government’s plan to work in a mission mode to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047.”
Sickle cell anaemia is a serious inherited genetic disease that causes the red blood cells to take on an abnormal sickle or half-moon shape. The sickle cells die early, causing a constant shortage of red blood cells. Sickled cells get stuck in small blood vessels, which can slow or block blood flow and oxygen. Dr Aashish Chaudhary, Chairman and Managing Director, Aakash Healthcare Private limited said that the need of the hour is to spread more awareness about SCD and the government in this budget has hit the right chord by addressing this issue right from the Parliament during the Budget.
“We welcome the government’s initiative to get rid of the SCD which entails creating awareness and universal screening of 7 crore people in affected tribal areas in 0 – 40 years of age, thereby, helping to reduce the disease burden in the country,” he added. Advancements in technology have provided a ray of hope to the millions of sickle sick patients. Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) offers hope as the only curative option for symptomatic patients with its immense success rate across the globe.