Dhangadi, January 22
A machine to test sickle-cell disease has been installed at Seti Zonal Hospital in Dhangadi, elating people from the Tharu community.
Sickle-cell disease is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from parents, the most common type being sickle-cell anaemia. Sickle-cell anaemia causes an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin found in the red blood cells, sometimes causing the cells to take rigid, ‘sickle’ like shape, making it unable to carry oxygen.
Life expectancy for those afflicted with the ailment in the developed world is 40 to 60 years, provided the patient gets proper treatment.
The disease is endemic in Tharu communities.
However, prior to this, no testing or treatment options were available for patients in the district.
Patients, most of them from impoverished families, had to travel to the capital to conduct expensive tests and get treatment.
Chairman of Ghodaghodi Hospital Bishnu Sapkota, who also runs the Sickle Cell Camp, said that they had been trying to get the machine worth Rs 5 million to the district for the past ten years. “Without a machine to even test for the disease, and with most of the community unaware of this disease, we do not have any data regarding the lives lost to SCD in the district so far,” Sapkota said.
“The installation of the machine at Seti Zonal Hospital, though delayed, will make it possible to test and treat SCD,” said Sapkota.
Yagyaraj Chaudhary of Dhangadi said that a large number of people have lost their lives due to lack of information about the disease. “If the people are informed about the disease, more would get tested, and more would get treatment,” he said.
Yasoda Dhakal an employee at Seti Zonal Hospital, said that the health facility has been testing around 30 people every day for SCD. So far, 16 have tested positive.
Seti Zonal Hospital is the second health facility to install an SCD test machine outside the capital. A government plan is afoot to install SCD test machines in Butwal and Nepalgunj as well.
Machines for haemodialysis, and to test HIV viral load have also been installed at the zonal hospital.
A version of this article appears in print on January 23, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.