RAIPUR: An estimated 15 per cent population of Chhattisgarh is feared to be afflicted with the sickle cell disease (SCD). Yet, the government has showed no urgency to tackle the problem. The state took 13 years to announce a dedicated centre for research, treatment and counselling and training for SCD in 2013 in capital Raipur. But it has not filled up even half the sanctioned 180 posts at the institute.
Sophisticated machines, worth over `18 crore were procured 11 years ago by the government for prenatal diagnosis, but investigations like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling to diagnose SCD is yet to take-off.
In India SCD is mostly prevalent in pockets of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala.
Dr A R Dalla, former chairman of the Indian Red Cross Society, who has done extensive research on the disorder, said the prevalence of disorder in Chhattisgarh is among the highest in the country. Around 36 lakh of the state’s 2.25 crore population is affected.
Experts blame low literacy rate, lack of community leadership, ignorance about the issue even among doctors and the absence of scientific data for the state of affairs. “We still don’t have a national control programme for early diagnosis and cost-effective interventions to prevent the associated complications related to the disorder,” asserted Dr Dalla.
“While 60 per cent of affected children under 6 years of age die of infection and pneumonia, simple medicines like folic acid, oral penicillin tablets and pneumococcal vaccine to prevent infection is not available at primary health centres,” he said.