New Delhi: National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Vice Chairman Arun Halder on Thursday (February 2) welcomed the announcement made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget on the plan to launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047. Addressing a press conference here, Mr Halder said sickle cell disease is more prevalent in Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes communities. He said,
Whereas SCD is a universal disease and affects over 20 million people across India it is observed to be proportionately more prevalent in the tribal belts of India. India is estimated to be home to over 50 per cent of the world’s patients with sickle cell disease.
“SCD has the highest prevalence in three socio-economically disadvantaged ethnic categories in India: the Scheduled Castes (SC), the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC),” he said.
Mr Halder said community screening revealed the prevalence of sickle cell trait in 13 per cent of the SC population, 12 per cent of ST and 3.4 per cent of the OBC population. He said,
The tradition of endogamy practised by the ethnic groups in India provides the rationale for the screening of individual populations to better understand the distribution of SCD gene, guide counselling and awareness programmes and aid development of public policy.
Mr Halder said the Union Budget for 2023-24 was comprehensive and addresses every section of society, including SC, ST and OBC.
In her Budget speech on Wednesday (February 1), Ms Sitharaman announced her government’s plan to launch a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047.
The minister said it will entail awareness creation, universal screening of seven crore people in the age group of 0-40 years in affected tribal areas and counselling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders in which the size of red blood cells starts changing. Abnormality in hemoglobin causes the red blood cells to become hard and sticky and look like a sickle. The sickle cells die early causing a constant shortage of red blood cells.
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