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National Conclave Marks World Sickle Cell Day 2024 with Major Awareness Campaign

New Delhi: In commemoration of World Sickle Cell Day 2024, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in collaboration with the Birsa Munda Centre, AIIMS Delhi, organized a National Conclave aimed at raising awareness and halting the intergenerational transmission of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). The event was graced by Union Minister for Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram, and Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, D.D. Uikey.

A significant highlight of the day was the launch of a two-week-long awareness and screening drive across over 340 high SCD-incidence districts in 17 states. The campaign’s first day saw the organization of over 25,000 events, including nearly 15,000 health camps, attracting participation from around 1.1 million people. The extensive efforts resulted in approximately 460,000 individuals receiving counseling, 153,000 being screened, and 164,000 SCD cards being distributed.

Union Minister Jual Oram emphasized the government’s dedication to eradicating Sickle Cell Disease from India through sustained nationwide campaigns and grassroots efforts. Drawing from his experiences in Gujarat, Oram highlighted the importance of a holistic approach involving various ministries and departments, particularly in tribal regions heavily affected by SCD. He stressed that while top experts and doctors would drive the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Eradication Mission, success hinges on the involvement of ground-level workers.

Minister of State D.D. Uikey reiterated the need for a compassionate approach to healthcare, particularly in raising awareness among the youth. He expressed confidence that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, India would achieve its goal of eradicating Sickle Cell Disease by 2047.

During the inaugural session, Secretary (Tribal Affairs) Vibhu Nayar revealed that recent tests conducted under the National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission identified 10% of those screened as sickle cell trait carriers, with 1% diagnosed with the disease. The Ministry plans further tests to identify more cases and provide necessary interventions. Dr. Naval Jit Kapoor, Additional Secretary (Tribal Affairs), outlined a 10-year roadmap to eradicate SCD by 2047. Prof. M. Srinivas, Director of AIIMS, highlighted the Birsa Munda Centre’s role in screening and training individuals to combat SCD.

The Conclave featured an enlightening panel discussion on the challenges of combating Sickle Cell Disease in India. Participants included senior officers from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and health experts from AIIMS and other prominent institutions engaged in SCD research.

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