maharashtra has set up a committee to look into the growing prevalence of sickle cell anaemia in the state and prepare a plan to check the spread of the disease. The move comes in the wake of a recent study in 19 districts by the Nagpur-based Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, which found almost 10 per cent of the state's population was affected by the disease and that most of the victims were tribals. "The committee will present the report before the state cabinet for budget allocation," said Amitabh Chandra, principal secretary, Department of Medical Education and Drug Supplies, Maharashtra.
The genetic disorder is prevalent in the state's tribal areas, such as Thane, Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon and Akola, say local media reports. The study also says that in Nagpur district alone, more than 18 per cent of the over 7,500 people tested for the disease were positive. While more than 13 per cent of the people who tested positive are from the Scheduled Castes, 1.3 per cent are from Scheduled Tribes and about 2 per cent are from Other Backward Class.
Epidemiological studies also confirm these reports. Among them is a recent case study by S L Kate of B J Medical College, Pune. This paper on the health problems of various tribal groups in Maharashtra, says: "Prevalence of sickle cell disorder is very high among tribal groups Bhils and Pawaras from Nandurbar district and among the Madia, Pardhan and Oktar population from Gadchiroli district. The highest recorded prevalence is among the Oktar group (35 per cent)...Unfortunately neither diagnostic nor treatment facilities are available in tribal areas."
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