Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched the second phase of “Thalassemia Bal Sewa Yojna” for the underprivileged Thalassemic patients, virtually from Nirman Bhawan on Wednesday.
Launched in 2017, this scheme is a Coal India CSR funded Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) program that aims to provide a one-time cure opportunity for Haemoglobinopathies like Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease for patients who have a matched family donor. The CSR initiative was targeted to provide financial assistance to a total of 200 patients by providing a package cost not exceeding Rs. 10 lakhs per HSCT.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan congratulated the doctors of SGPGI Lucknow, PGI Chandigarh, AIIMS Delhi, CMC Vellore, Tata Medical centre, Kolkata and Rajeev Gandhi Cancer Institute, Delhi for the successful transplantation of 135 children without charging any physician fee. He stated that “Data on the prevalence of silent carriers for various Haemoglobinopathies show that it is 2.9-4.6% for β-Thalassemia, while it can be as high as 40% for sickle cell anaemia especially among the tribal population. Haemoglobin variants like HBE in eastern India can be as common as 3-50% which calls for more attention to these diseases.” He also acknowledged CMC, Ludhiana and Narayan Hrudayalaya, Bangalore who have agreed to provide this advanced care therapy from 2020.
Expressing gratitude to Coal India and their CSR team for providing such opportunity to the BPL patients suffering from haematological disorders and extending the support for another two years from 2020, Dr. Harsh Vardhan mentioned the issue of high Out-of-Pocket-Expenditure on health services in India, “People go bankrupt selling ancestral land and the last property paying for their treatment. It is precisely that pain that moved Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji to introduce the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana for targeted populace.” “We had met beneficiaries of the scheme while documenting them and they had tears of gratitude for this valuable support in midst of the gloom in their lives,” he added.
Expressing satisfaction that the scheme has been extended to cover Aplastic Anaemia patients for a total of 200 such patients from this year, he said, “Such cases can be prevented by counselling using the Ayushman Bharat –Health & Wellness Centres network. We have made Blood Transfusion facilities available in every district hospital while some districts also offer the facility in health centres at sub-district level.”
Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, Vandana Gurnani, AS&MD (NHM), Pramod Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director, Coal India and other senior officials of the Health Ministry and Coal India were present on the occasion.
From the medical community, Dr. Vikram Mathews, HOD Hematology, CMC Vellore, Dr Soniya Nityanand, HOD Hematology, SGPGI Lucknow, Dr Dinesh Burrani, HOD Hematology, RGCI, Dr Pankaj Malhotra, HOD Hematology, PGI Chandigarh, Dr. Manoranjan Mahapatra, HOD Hematology, AIIMS New Delhi, Dr. Mammen Chandy, HOD Hematology, Tata Medical Centre, Kolkata, Dr Sunil Bhatt, HOD Hematology pediatric, Narayan Hrudayalaya , Bangalore, Dr. Joseph John, HOD Hematology, CMC Ludhiana and many children affected by Thalassemia along with their parents joined the programme virtually.