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Shortage of sickle cell anemia medicines affects patients in Western Nepal

DANG: The shortage of medicine for sickle cell anemia since five to six months in Dang has forced patients to go to India to find the drugs. Some patients who cannot afford to go to India have ceased to take medicines due to this.
Jeet Bahadur Chaudhary, the sickle cell patient, said many patients have stopped taking the medicine due to unavailability of the medicine. The government has made provisions for the (free) distribution of medicines worth up to Rs 100 thousand from the Rapti Academy of Health Sciences (RAHS).
Rupa Chaudhary of Motipur of Tulasipur-11 said she has not been taking the medicines for a month now as she was not able to get it, though she is prescribed for regular intake. She feels the intense joint and muscle pain during the discontinuity of medicines. Though she is taking ‘folic acid’ regularly, the medicine named ‘hydrea’ is in shortage. Similarly, another patient Sharad Chaudhary of Tulasipur-11 shared that he visits India to buy the medicines as it is now not available in Dang and Nepalgunj.
According to Chitrakala Adhikari of RAHS, the sickle cell patient needs to take both medicines, but the shortage of second drugs continues to prevail, putting patients at further difficulty.
A total of 135 patients take regular medicines of sickle cell in the district. The shortage occurs as the supply of medicines from Nepalgunj was halted due it its crisis in Nepalgunj. Sickle cell is a genetic and life threatening health condition seen among the Tharu community of western Tarai. The number of its patients is likely to be more than the identified number and the need of bringing medical equipment for its test to the district has been highly realised. The medical test facilities of sickle cell anemia are available only in selected areas like Kathmandu and Dang.
The study predicts that 15 percent Tharu population, out of 137,000, in the district may have this problem.

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