Monday, 4 May 2015

The Deadly Link - Sickle Cell Deases

What is Sickle cell disease?

A serious disorder in which the body makes sickle or crescent-shaped red blood cells (RBC). Unlike normal RBCs, sickle cells are stiff and sticky. They tend to block regular blood flow which can result in organ damage.

There is a direct relationship between malaria and sickle cell trait. Tribal account for 8.6% of the total population of India but 50% of the tribal deaths are due to malaria.

What is the treatment?
If a person with sickle cell trait (SCT) marries another with the condition, they are likely to pass it on their children.

What is government strategy?
The government wants to identify children with SCT and through marriage counseling advise them against marrying a person with the condition.

For the first time in India, the government will screen more than 5 crore tribal children for sickle cell trait, a condition that is prevalent in epidemic proportions in tribal-dominated areas and directly linked to malaria deaths in the country. Tribal children with sickle cell trait will be issued a card and given counseling advising them against marrying another person with a similar condition as this increases the likelihood of the condition being passed on.

Working on the directives of PM Narendra Modi, who had ordered a similar initiative in Gujarat as state chief minister, the tribal affaire ministry will conduct a massive exercise in all states from July. The ministry will work in collaboration with state governments and conduct blood tests of all tribal students in schools and hostels to determine whether they have sickle cell trait.

In the first phase, the government will screen tribal students in school and hostels managed by tribal welfare departments and then extend it to schools run by the education department and private institutions. The government has identified 10 tribal-dominated Schedule V area states as priority states -- Andhra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telengana, Rajasthan, Himachal, MP, Odisha and Maharashtra. Other priority states include the northeastern states, Tamilnadu and Karnataka.

The government is using the summer vacation months to train aanganwadi and health workers to conduct the blood test. These will be conducted after school reopen in July. The government will approach out-of-school children through community groups.
The government's concern over sickle cell anemia or sickle cell trait stems from its links to malaria. Tribal account for 8.6% of the total population of India but 50% of the death due to malaria. If a person with sickle cell trait marries another affected person, the children have a likelihood of being born with sickle cell disease, which is very difficult to manage.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Why Is Blood Needed More During The Holidays?

As the holidays approach everyone is getting ready to decorate their homes, preparing their shopping lists, and planning their trips to visit family out of town. At this time of year, the community doesn’t realize how much their local blood centers could really use their support with blood donations.

Did you know that every two seconds someone in India is in need of blood? This means that the need for blood is always present. And during the holidays blood is needed even more frequently for a couple big reasons.

Reason #1: Local high schools and colleges are typically on holiday break.

Most of the blood that is collected comes from local high schools and colleges where students attend the blood drives scheduled at their campus. Typically around this time of year, students are on holiday breaks, making it a little bit more difficult for blood centers to keep their blood supplies at safe levels. This is when the blood centers depend on the community to keep their shelves stocked. Now this is only one reason as to why blood is needed most during the holidays. There are several other situations that affect blood centers all around India during the holidays.

Reason #2: Traveling increases and so do accidents.

Around this time of year, there are also tons of people taking trips to spend the holidays with their loved ones. This makes blood donors unavailable to donate for a certain amount of time depending on how long they will be away. It can be difficult finding time to do anything after traveling for a long period of time, with having to get settled back into normal routines and knowing how our schedules will look. However, the need for blood never ends, and this is why people should make time to pause, relax, and take an hour of their valuable time to help save up to three lives during the holidays.

As holiday traveling increases so do accidents. A single accident victim can use up to 100 units of blood, which is a significant amount of blood to substitute. Once again this raises the need for blood donations during the holidays.

This holiday season, give a gift that can help save a life. With schools being out and traveling on the rise, this time of the year increases the need for blood tremendously. So again, be a hero and take an hour to help your local blood center keep their blood supply at a safe level. Most of all, help save some lives!