The practice of marriage among relatives in the tribal population of Alirajpur could be exposing their children to sickle cell anaemia¸ a debilitating genetic disorder.
The survey conducted as part of Gramoday se Bharat Uday exercise in the tribal-dominated district found that around 24% school-going tribal children are afflicted with sickle cell anaemia.
Conducted by the district administration through government doctors in 101 tribal hostels housing Class V to Class VIII students, the survey revealed that 1,144 (around 24%) of the surveyed 4,872 tribal students carried the inherited blood disorder.
“As over 91% population is tribal, more elaborate survey is needed, for which similar exercise will now be done in all schools of excellence in six development blocks, government girl hostels, followed by all primary and secondary schools. The findings will help us in knowing the actual magnitude of the problem…,” Alirajpur collector Shekhar Verma told HT.
Alirajpur block reported the most number of 256 sickle cell anaemia cases.
Red blood cells of people suffering from sickle cell anaemia are rigid and sticky and are shaped like sickles. These cells get stuck in capillaries, consequently depriving vital organs of sufficient blood supply. Severe body pain and chronic breathing problems affect the mental and physical growth of children.
“After school reopens, we’ll introduce health cards to these students for proper medical management of the genetic problem. Parents and siblings will also be screened to track how many more people carry the inherited blood disorder,” Verma said. “Besides, our doctors at district hospital and associated health facilities, we’re trying to tie-up with two Baroda hospitals for free advanced treatment.”
Civil surgeon at district hospital, Dr Prakash Dhoke said medical treatment will begin after advanced blood tests of the 1,144 students. “The blood samples of these children will now be taken for advanced haemoglobin electrophoresis test. Once it’s established whether they are carrying the traits or are full blown cases, the necessary medical treatment will start.”
“Regular intake of folic acid tablets, blood transfusion, administration of artificial oxygen and reduction of acid level in the body through sodium bicarbonate injections form the complete management of sickle cell anaemia,” he said.