Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

Sickle Cell Anaemia screening meets only 1% of target


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sicke Cell Anaemia

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central idea:  The Health Ministry of India set a target to scan one crore people for sickle cell disease in 2022-23. However, with only two weeks left in the fiscal year, the Ministry has completed only 1% of the target.

What is Sickle Cell Anaemia?


  • Sickle Cell Anaemia is a genetic blood disorder that affects the haemoglobin molecule in red blood cells.
  • People with sickle cell anaemia have abnormal haemoglobin that causes their red blood cells to become sickle-shaped, rigid and sticky.
  • These abnormal cells can clog small blood vessels, leading to excruciating pain, organ damage, and a higher risk of infections.
  • Sickle cell anaemia is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means that a person must inherit two copies of the mutated gene, one from each parent, to develop the disease.
  • There is no cure for sickle cell anaemia, but treatments are available to manage its symptoms and complications.

How widespread is it in India?

  • Sickle cell anaemia is prevalent in some parts of India, particularly in tribal and rural areas.
  • According to the ICMR, sickle cell trait is present in about 20-22% of the tribal population in central India, and the disease is present in about 3-5% of the same population.
  • It is estimated that there are about 30 million carriers of the sickle cell trait in India, and around 1.5-2 lakh sickle cell disease patients.
  • The disease is most commonly found in the states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Gujarat.

Recent discussions

  • India aims to eradicate sickle cell anaemia by 2047, Finance Minister announced during her Budget 2023 speech.
  • Under the new scheme, 70 million people up to the age of 40 years in affected tribal areas will be screened for the disease.
  • The Health Ministry has assigned tentative State-wise screening targets to the States for timely completion of the exercise.
  • The Ministry is working to create and maintain a central registry for all screened persons to prevent patients from slipping through the cracks.

Current status of screening

  • Only 1,05,954 people have been screened so far, out of which 5959 people, or 5.62% of those screened were found to be carrying sickle cell disease traits.
  • Regular and timely screening of the population is important, as in a previous screening exercise of over 1.13 crore people in 2016, up to 9,49,057 (8.75%) tested positive for the sickle cell trait, and up to 47,311 of these ended up with full-blown sickle cell disease.

Way forward

  • Increased screening: Achieving the goal of eliminating sickle cell anaemia would involve screening at least seven crore people under the age of 40 years in multiple phases by 2025-26.
  • Creating awareness: The Health Ministry is working to create awareness amongst those who carry the sickle cell trait to refrain from marrying another person who also carries the trait.
  • Targeted assessment: Pregnant women are a priority group for immediate screening, and in the long-term, screening of targeted population of unmarried adolescents between 10 to 25 years will be undertaken.

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