INDIA – India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has approved national guidelines for the treatment of Sickle Cell Anaemia Disease.

This regulatory approval follows concerted efforts of various stakeholders, individuals, and organizations in the country to streamline care for patients with Sickle Cell Disease.

The Thalassemia Patients Advocacy Group (TPAG) and The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) recently held a roundtable on the prevention of Hemoglobinopathies including Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia at Le Meridien, New Delhi.

Similarly, the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) plans to release a manual on blood transfusion services and voluntary blood donation guidelines before the end of June 2023.

The National Health Mission also introduced programs for controlling thalassemia and sickle cell disease in the country.

The latest standard treatment guidelines have been developed in consultation with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and endorsed by the Government of India.

Other national initiatives include the e-Raktkosh portal for blood transfusion requirements and the network of over 150,000 Health and Wellness Centres for treatment and diagnostic care.

The national treatment guidelines come shortly after the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare set aside adequate funds to facilitate the screening for Sickle Cell Anaemia Disease.

In February this year, Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India, announced a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia by the year 2047 during her Union Budget Presentation 2023.

The Indian government plans to screen approximately 70 million individuals under 40 years living in affected tribal areas to build on its mission to eliminate the disease by 2047.

In the latest guidelines, antenatal mothers, women who are planning a pregnancy, newborns, and patients of any age will undergo screening to detect Sickle Cell Anemia Diseases or sickle cell traits.

These guidelines also include recommendations on how to conduct medical disease counselling, genetic counselling, preconception care counselling, alongside pre and post-test support to the family and cascade screening.

Additionally, the sickle cell screening guidelines capture the knowledge of signs and symptoms caregivers can look out for before hospitalizations or referrals to a higher centre.

These red flags include persistent temperatures (more than 38 degree Celsius), pain inadequately relieved by home measures, and significant respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

In addition, patients may have hypoxia, abdominal pain, distention, acute enlargement of the spleen, and significant vomiting and diarrhoea.

In an official statement, Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare of India, announced that the Sickle Cell Disease treatment guidelines were

Dr. Bharati Praveen Pawar underscored that Sickle Cell Anaemia Disease is a group of inherited disorders that cause red blood cells to become misshapen and break down.

Moreover, she has launched the third phase of the Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana (TBSY) of the Health Ministry and the Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojana Portal to mobilise nationwide support for awareness and treatment for blood-related disorders.

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