BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is going to host third world congress on sickle cell disease (SCD) and bone marrow transplantation (BMT) at Bhubaneswar from February 21 to 24.
The global meet, to be held for the first time in the country, is expected to turn the spotlight on SCD and the heavy human cost it entails.
While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is slated to inaugurate the conference, Health Ministers of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra are scheduled to attend and share their visions to tackle the menace.
Organising secretary and head of Clinical Haematology Department, SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack Prof RK Jena said the global event will bring the focus on SCD and BMT in the State in particular, and India in general. "It will also open up new vistas for medical services providers and allied sectors," he added.
The global congress aims to unify efforts within the country to enhance research, education and clinical care besides strengthening SCD education and advocacy while shedding light on directed practices in India.
The New Delhi-based Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) estimates that 20 percent of children with SCD in the country die before two years of age and 30 percent of children with SCD among the tribal populations die before reaching adulthood. The presence of the sickle gene allele is not only confined to the tribal population but also exists in non-tribals in considerably high numbers.
While Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh have taken the lead in establishing centres for diagnosis and management of SCD, no such facility is available in Odisha, which has significantly high percentage of the population, estimated to be up to 34 percent in some regions, that carries the sickle gene.
"Comprehensive and effective control measures are required at the public level to help reduce the rising disease burden in the State. The global congress in Odisha will be vital in helping build awareness among the local population and provide the much-needed boost to the efforts of the public health agencies of the Government," Prof Jena added.
Eminent haematologists, transplant physicians, doctors, researchers and policy makers from across the globe are expected to participate in this world congress to be organised by Global Sickle Cell Disease Network (GSCDN) in collaboration with Odisha Haematology and Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC).
Since the event aims at enhancing in-depth scientific research to chalk out advance clinical care strategies for people affected with SCD across the endemic regions, international experts including Miguel R Abboud (Lebanon), Adekunle D Adekile (Kuwait), Lou AM Aledort (New York), Biree Andemaria (Farmington), Lanette Bronte (Florida), Thomas D Coates (California), Sharon Cox (London) and Bernard Dauvergne (France) are slated to involve in strategic engagement during the conference.