‘Padma Shri’ Sampat Ramteke: The man who made sickle-cell awareness his ‘mission’

Sickle-cell disease is a form of a blood disorder, inherited from parents. In this disease, red blood cells in the body resemble a sickle and the haemoglobin’s shape is not normal. Late Sampat Ramteke had spent 26 years spreading awareness about this disease in India. The Indian government has conferred him with a ‘Padma Shri’ for his phenomenal work in the healthcare sector

'Padma Shri' Sampat Ramteke: The man who made sickle-cell awareness his ‘mission’

  • A man, who made sickle-cell awareness his only ‘mission’ in life, has been conferred with a ‘Padma Shri’ (posthumous) by the Union government. The late Sampat Ramteke, who hailed from Nagpur, Maharashtra, had spent his entire life to spread awareness on sickle-cell disease.
  • Sampat Ramteke, fought for the rights of sickle-cell affected patients, and had helped thousands of patients India who suffered from the disease.
  • He was the President of the ‘Sickle-cell’ Society of India.

Sampat Ramteke started his mission of spreading awareness about sickle-cell in the year 1991. His son, who is now 34 years, is still suffering from the rare genetic disorder.

While his son was suffering from sickle-cell disease, Sampat Ramteke decided to reach out to the millions of people who were suffered from it and did not know about this condition.

Moving from one village to another, conducting blood tests of lakhs of people, day-in and day-out, Sampat Ramteke relentlessly made people aware about this disease.

'Padma Shri' Sampat Ramteke: The man who made sickle-cell awareness his ‘mission’
Late Sampat Ramteke

Sampat Ramteke died two months back, due to a massive heart attack. While speaking to My Medical Mantra, his wife, Jaya Ramteke said, “I am very happy today, the central government has recognised my husband’s work. He started spreading public awareness about ‘sickle-cell’ by organising camps in the village. He used to visit villages, talking to people, conducting their blood check-up. On few occasion, he had carried out ‘morcha’ against the government. He helped thousands of patients with sickle-cell disease gain their rights.”

Sampat Ramteke began his mission, after realising his son, who was a computer engineer, was suffering from the disease. He started his work at a time when people did not know much about sickle-cell disease. The government too, had little information about it on the grass-roots level. Thus, Sampat Ramteke brought books from USA and studied them. He took the initiative to help the large number of people suffering from sickle- cell disease in rural areas.

Jaya Ramteke further said, “In central India, especially Vidharbha, there are a large number of children who are suffering from sickle-cell. My husband worked very hard in the rural areas. He had a wish to set-up a sickle-cell research centre in Nagpur. So, the patients from central India did not need to travel to Mumbai or Pune to get their medical check-up done. I request the government to set-up a ward or center for the sickle-cell patients in Nagpur.”

What is sickle cell disease?

  • It’s a genetic disorder
  • The size of the red blood cell, appears like a sickle
  • They become rigid and curved
  • It cause enormous pain
  • Haemoglobin’s shape is not normal
  • Shape of the blood cells block blood flow

Jaya Ramteke further stated, “Sometimes the pain is so much that a patient thinks of committing suicide. Parents find it very difficult to deal with the situation. We’ve been through this. So, now we counsel the patients. They are given mental support to fight against the illness. In America, there is a ‘sickle-cell’ law for patients. Such a law should be made in India too. So that patients will get their rights.”