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Health News Sat, 9 May 2009

Parents urged not to abandon their sickle cell kids

Ho, May 9, GNA-Dr. Kwasi Appiah, President of the Sickle Cell Association of Ghana (SCAG) has urged parents who give birth to children with sickle cell disorders not to abandon them since the condition was manageable.

He said the birth of a child with sickle cell should not also result in estrangement in marital relationships as those kids could live full and fruitful lives just like any other child. Dr Appiah was addressing a durbar in Ho on Friday to mark the Africa Day of Sickle Cell Disease (FALDA) which falls on Sunday May 10. He said there was need to correct misconceptions about the disease, build the clinical infrastructure, formulate and nurture policies that would make care affordable and services at easy reach of sufferers. Dr Appiah said estimates indicated that 16,000 babies born every year in Ghana have sickle cell and in Africa, 400,000 for the same period.

He said the sad realization was that about 25 percent of people living in some communities in Ghana were carriers but unaware of it. Dr. Appiah, therefore suggested the screening of all new born in Ghana for the disease, for management to commence early to save lives as done in some countries with far less prevalent rate of sickle cell condition than Ghana.

He also recommended to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to put aside one day in a week at health facilities for special sickle cell clinics. Dr Appiah said the celebration was brought to Ho to enable the Association identify patients, bring them together, for a regional branch. He said there were currently five regional branches at Tema, Accra, Sunyani, Kumasi and Koforidua. Mr Andrews Adjei Druye, National Focal Person of the Sickle Cell Disease Control Programme (SCDCP) in a presentation said 27 percent of Ghanaians either have the disease or have traits and that out of every 50 births in Ghana had it.

He said 95 percent of babies born with sickle cell could die before age five if they did no benefit from any form of medical intervention. Mr Druye listed severe headaches, chest and tummy pains, jaundiced eyes, spleen problems, stunted growth, physical deformities, susceptibility to infections, frequent hospitalization, occupational and relationship problems as some of the medical and psychosocial conditions associated with the disease. He advised that couples dating should test to know their status before deciding to formalize their relationship since genotype of couples determine whether they would have children with sickle cell or not. Dr Willaim Bonsu, Director, Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme of the GHS said the GHS was in talks with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to pick cost of screening at birth, which is notably crucial for the management of the disease. He called for some form of private participation in programmes to tackle the disease and also share resources by the various interventions under the GHS. Ms. Sena Akua Dansua, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs in a speech read for her said the problem, if not tackled could delay Ghana's attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. 09 May 09

Source: GNA