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Gujarat at the forefront compared to other states in timely screening of Sickle Cell Anemia disease seen in tribal populations

According to recently revealed figures by the Indian government, Guj is at the forefront compared to other states in timely screening of Sickle Cell Anemia. According to the last population count done in 2011, there were over 90 lakh tribal people living in the state. As of December 2015, the Gujarat government had successfully screened 86,44,928 people for Sickle Cell Anemia. From all those screened, 7,58,827 people have been diagnosed with the disease or have been diagnosed as the carrier of the disease. Coming at the second place after Gujarat, over 11 lakh tribal people have been screened in Maharashtra.

This disease is passed to children due to defective DNA. There is no effective cure for the disease, but if it is detected early then the disease can be stopped from being passed on to coming generations and the quality of life of patients can also be improved.

Since 2006, the Gujarat government has started intensive screening for Sickle Cell Anemia in 14 districts of Gujarat having tribal population under the Sickle Cell Anemia Control Program. People diagnosed with the disease are provided free treatment in government hospitals and clinics. They are also given tablets of Folic Acid on a regular basis.

To ensure that patients get adequate facilities, 180 councilors visit homes of patients for counseling. Patients are also provided with life-saving Hydroxyurea tablets in adequate quantities. In the year 2015-16, over 18,49,750 such tablets were distributed. Also, over 16,693 patients were given Pneumococcal Vaccine.

In addition to this, every pregnant woman is screened for this disease at Community health centers and at primary health care centers and also on the occasion of Mamta Divas. If the pregnant mother is found to be positive then her husband is also screened for the disease and if both of them are positive then the unborn child is also screened.

It is worth noting that under the ‘Sickle Cell Anemia Control Program’ tribal population of 14 districts including Surat, Navsari, Valsad, Dang, Tapi, Bharuch, Narmada, Chhota Udepur, Panchmahal, Mahisagar, Aravalli, Sabarkantha, Banskantha, and Dahod have been covered under Sickle Cell Anemia Screening. Modern H.P.L.C. machine have been installed at general hospitals in Navsari, Tapi, Godhra as well as at medical colleges in Surat and Baroda where all medical tests for this disease are done free of cost.

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