The world has seen its fair share of struggle in the past few years during the coronavirus pandemic. This has helped shift the focus of the government and health authorities on preparedness for unexpected events such as Covid-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks. One such disease is sickle cell anemia, which affects more people than you think in the country. In the Union Budget for the year 2023-24 presented on February 1st, 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the importance of sickle cell anemia awareness. She also shared the government’s plan to eradicate the disease by 2047.
Here’s what you need to know about the government decision to eliminate sickle cell anemia and how its affecting the country.
Government plans to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047: Nirmala Sitharaman
While presenting the Union Budget in Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced plans for a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by 2047. “The mission will entail awareness creation, universal screening of seven crore people in the 0-40 years age group in affected tribal areas and counselling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments,” said Sitharaman.
The purpose is to raise awareness about the disorder and provide counselling in the wake of its spread. Here’s everything you need to know about the disease.
What is sickle cell anemia?
Sickle cell disease (SCD) or sickle cell disease is a group of inherited diseases that affects the red blood cells in the body. Red blood cells deliver oxygen to every region of the body that affects the body. They are usually round and flexible, but sickle cell anemia causes sickle or crescent shapes that develop a hard or sticky coating that can hinder or delay blood flow to the veins.
As per the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, sickle cell disease was first described in the Nilgiri Hills of northern Tamil Nadu in 1952. Statistics suggest that around 18 million people in India are at risk of developing the disease. The Sickle Cell Disease Health Info and Community, India, notes that the country has more prevalence of this health concern. It also highlights that over 20 percent of Indian kids (2 years or younger) die of the disease.
Cold weather, dehydration, strenuous activity, and tobacco smoke are typical triggers. An attack can also be triggered by additional factors, such as flying and being at a high altitude, as per World Health Organisation (WHO) data.
Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia
As per several health authorities, sickle cell anemia first appears in children as young as 6 months old. While the symptoms of the disease can vary from one person to another, some of the common symptoms of sickle cell anemia include:
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Feeling fussy
- Chest, back, arms, or legs pain
- Swollen hands and feet
- Kidney problems that could lead to bed-wetting
- Frequent infections
- Vision problems
- Delayed growth or puberty
- Extreme episodes of pain
Serious symptoms of sickle cell anemia
If you notice any of the following symptoms of sickle cell anemia, you should give your doctor a visit immediately:
- Inability to walk or talk properly
- Paralysis or weakness of limbs
- Changes in vision
- Severe headache
- Feeling confused
Sickle cell anemia treatment
As for treatment for sickle cell disease, there are several treatments available that can help you overcome the symptoms of the disease.
- Intravenous fluid re-hydration can help in the normalisation of red blood cell function.
- Treating infections to control the disease.
- Pain medication to relieve the pain caused by the disease.
- Supplements to improve oxygen levels in the blood.
- Immunization to prevent infections.
- Bone marrow transplant is also used to tackle the disease.
If you notice any symptoms, it is best to check with your doctor to know the right course of treatment.