Kamis, 05 Agustus 2010


 Story: Musah Yayah Jafaru & Zainabu Issah

MORE than 12,000 babies are born yearly with sickle cell disease (a disease of red blood cells) in Ghana, the First Lady, Mrs Ernestina Naadu Mills, has disclosed.

She said more than 350,000 babies were born every year with sickle cell disease in Africa , while the disease accounted for more than six per cent of all deaths in young children.

Mrs Naadu Mills, who was referring to the 2010 statistics on sickle cell disease at the opening of the first global congress on sickle cell disease in Accra, called for a concerted effort among governments, medical practitioners and institutions to improve the treatment of sickle cell patients.

The four-day conference is being attended by medical and research scientists, public health officers, people with sickle cell disease and representatives of community-based, national and international organisations.
It has as its theme: “Sickle Cell Disease: 1910-2010; 100 Years of Science, Still Seeking Global Solutions”.

The congress will address issues about health education and psychological needs of affected persons and families, medical care, research, programme development and development of international community-based organisations.

It is being jointly organised by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana (SCFG) and the Ministry of Health.
Mrs Naadu Mills noted that sickle cell disease was “a major health problem” which affected people of African, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian origins.

However, she said, in spite of 100 years of scientific knowledge and research, sickle cell disease remained a global problem still seeking solutions.
“Clearly, governments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations need to do a lot more about sickle cell disease than they have done in the past, ” she said.

Mrs Naadu Mills said the pilot project on newborn screening for sickle cell in Kumasi showed that the early diagnosis of the disease, institution of family health education, antibiotic prophylaxis and comprehensive medical care had helped the children against early death and crisis.

She stressed that many children with sickle cell disease “grow to become successful adults, true achievers, whose success should serve as measures of hope for all people with the disease”.

The Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, said as of December last year, the newborn screening project in Kumasi and Tikrom had screened more than 300,000 newborns, found more than 5,000 babies with sickle cell disease and enrolled about 4,000 of them at the Sickle Cell Clinic at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi for regular management.

He said the government would establish sickle cell disease treatment centres at each of the regional and large district hospitals, adding that maternal and child health personnel and laboratory and other technical personnel would be trained to conduct the screening.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the SCFG, Dr Kwame Donkor Fordwor, expressed the hope that the congress would mark the initiation of a global effort to combat sickle cell disease, and called for the setting up of mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the progress of work.

Published in Daily Graphic on July 23, 2010

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