Sickle Cell Disease is multi-sectoral mission leveraging community mobilization, stakeholder collaboration: Dr. V K Paul

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Sickle Cell Disease is a multi-sectoral mission leveraging community mobilization and stakeholder collaboration, said Dr. V K Paul, Member Health, Niti Aayog while addressing the Post Budget Webinar ‘Leaving No Citizen Behind’.

The elimination of Sickle Cell Disease is an integral part of achieving the holistic vision of health for all in India, he said. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan also participated in the session.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Paul stated, “We have to make a collation at the ground level that connects each and every stakeholder. We need to make this as Jan Andolan to reach the last mile”. In resonance with this, Dr Paul emphasized on the need to generate awareness of Sickle Cell Disease wherein ‘opportunity testing’ is encouraged, as it would expedite treatment from those already suffering from the disease.

He also emphasized on the role of Ministry of Tribal Affairs in community mobilization and stakeholder collaboration in defining the medium and modes for reaching affected tribal areas. “It needs to be widely known that Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana provides full treatment for Sickle Cell Disease, free of cost”, he said.

Dr Paul advocated forming of healthcare professional partnerships that would facilitate wide assimilation and sharing of knowledge on a nationwide scale. He stressed on the importance of incorporating pregnancy screening as well as easy accessibility of Hydroxy urea and pneumococcal vaccine.

Reiterating the need for collective action, Bhushan said “employing a whole of government, whole of society approach is essential for eliminating this disease from the nation within a defined timeframe”. He elaborated that the portal on Sickle Cell Disease Management has already been established and a mobile application is also underway for which the training and orientation has commenced for state governments.

Stressing the role of the ministry, the Health Secretary stated that the Ministry of Health will support the state governments through National Health Mission for providing financial support. The state governments can choose the level of screening i.e., one level or two level of screening that they deem fit. Additionally, the health ministry has appointed ICMR, AIIMS, and medical colleges as nodal agencies for all states as a point of reference regarding technical guidance.