Sickle-Cell Anaemia spreading among tribals

Tribal population is prone to SCA because of malnutrition. Genes N Life Health Care Private Limited tested over 12,000 tribals from hamlets in Jeelugumilli, Buttaigudem and Polavaram mandals in West Godavari district.

Updated - June 02, 2016 01:03 am IST

Published - August 06, 2014 12:05 am IST - VIJAYAWADA:

There is no problem if two individuals with white cards marry. The colours of the other cards are yellow and red. White card holders can marry yellow and red cardholders, but a yellow card holder cannot marry another yellow card holder. The cards will be the future match-makers of tribals living in West Godavari district.

A project sponsored by the Department of Bio-Technology, Government of India, in West Godavari district revealed that 10 per cent of tribals were affected by Sickle-cell Anaemia (SCA).

SCA is a hereditary blood disorder, in which the red blood cells (RBC) of the afflicted are sickle-shaped instead of the normal round shape. The “sickling” decreases the flexibility of the RBC and results in a variety of life-threatening complications. The sickling occurs because of a mutation in the gene responsible for the formation of haemoglobin in the RBC. Individuals with one copy of the mutant gene produce a mixture of both normal and abnormal haemoglobin (carriers).

Genes N Life Health Care Private Limited tested over 12,000 tribals from hamlets in Jeelugumilli, Buttaigudem and Polavaram mandals in West Godavari district. V. Durga Rao, chief scientific officer of the company, said that the survey had revealed 10 per cent incidence in Koya and Konda Reddi Tribes.

“If this serious health problem is not tackled immediately, the tribal populations in these three mandals would suffer from severe complications associated with hemoglobinopathies (destruction of blood cells) and with marriages within the communities the incidence can grow at a rapid pace,” he said.

Individuals who are normal are given white cards, those with SCA traits yellow cards and the affected are given red cards. “If two individuals having SCA traits get married half their children will be affected by SCA, a quarter of them will be carriers and only a quarter will be normal,” Dr Rao said. The cards are therefore essential to prevent carriers from getting married.

Tribal population were prone to SCA because of malnutrition. A marked relationship had been established between genetic mutation and malnutrition, Dr Rao said.

He said Gujarat which has a tribal population of 80 lakh had already screened 20 lakh people for SCA.

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