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Sickle-cell anaemia suspected among tribal people

R. Sairam
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Special screening camp to be held at February-end

Suspecting a high rate of prevalence of sickle-cell anaemia in tribal areas of Coimbatore district, screening camps are going to be held in Anaikatti, Sirumugai, Vellithurai and Palamalai by month-end.

Tamil Nadu Health System Project (TNHSP) has sanctioned funds for training the medical personnel implementing its Medical Outreach (MOR) services in these tribal areas, R. Damodharan, Deputy Director of Health Services, told The Hindu , here on Monday.

Nilgiri Adivasi Welfare Association (NAWA), based in Kotagiri, would train a medical officer, laboratory technician and a tribal counsellor working in these areas under the MOR. The screening camp would begin once the training programme is completed. This campaign was likely to be increased to cover more areas once additional data was gathered, he said.

Sickle-cell anaemia or Sickle-cell disease (SCD), is an autosomal recessive genetic blood disorder with over-dominance, characterised by red blood cells that assume an abnormal, rigid, sickle shape.

A surprising revelation unearthed by the MOR was the high prevalence of diabetes which is not common among tribal communities as they undertake a lot of physical activity. In order to provide healthcare for tribal communities in the district, he said TNHSP was providing funding for three components: MOR, bed grants and recruiting tribal counsellors.

The two NGOs implementing the MOR in Coimbatore district since 2011 were provided Rs. 10 lakh a year as bed grant by the TNSHP besides Rs. 70,000 every month for vehicle maintenance, fuel and staff salary. They were also given Rs. 5,000 every month for medicine, which must be procured from the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation.

While an NGO, Abirami, implemented the MOR at Anamalai and Udumalpet areas, the Aim for SEVA NGO covered Karamadai and Anaikatti till last December from when the GKD Trust was allotted the bed grants. The hospital operated by Aim for SEVA NGO since 2000 at Anaikatti provided health care to nearly 7,500 tribal people living in these remote forest and mountain hamlets.

Dr. Damodharan informed that a vehicle had been provided to both these NGOs who have recruited a medical officer, laboratory technician, staff nurse and a driver for providing health care in tribal areas. While they would perform laboratory investigations through haemoglobin meter and glucometer, the village health nurses of the Department of Public Health would conduct immunisation and coordinate the implementation of government welfare schemes like maternity assistance.

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