Editorial: Sensitise schoolchildren, teachers to Sickle cell disease

Editorial: Sensitise schoolchildren, teachers to Sickle cell disease

Sickle cell disease (ScD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately five per cent of the world’s population carries trait genes for haemoglobin disorders, mainly, sickle-cell disease.

Experts say ScD is a genetic blood disease due to the inheritance of faulty red blood cells from generally healthy parents.

Research revealed that in Ghana approximately 15,000 (two per cent) of Ghanaian newborns are diagnosed with ScD annually.

Even though ScD is a serious and lifelong health condition, research has proven that proper treatment can help manage many of the symptoms of ScD patients.

 Medications according to experts have advanced over the years and in view of that people living with the condition can now live healthy lives and reach their full potential.

It is rather unfortunate that a lot of schoolchildren who are ignorant about the disease have a wrong perception of it and tend to bully or stigmatise children with this condition, which affects them emotionally.

In school, sometimes children living with this condition are usually exempted from co-curricular activities.

However, according to the chief executive Officer of the international Sickle cell centre ( iScc), Dr Mary Ansong, these activities help children with the condition to have a sense of belongingness and boost their self-confidence.

 She suggested that they should participate in mild to moderate exercises with rest breaks and lots of water to prevent dehydration and stress which could both lead to pain episodes.

It is for this reason that the Junior Graphic encourages non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to liaise with the School Health and Education Programme (SHeP) under the Ghana Education Service to organise workshops to sensitise teachers and children to the disease so that they know how to relate to them.

The paper believes that such workshops will help teachers to know how to care for the children in school and help integrate them into the school setting so that they do not feel left out.

This will also prevent other schoolchildren from stigmatising them and assist them to live healthy lives.

Parents also have a role to play by also educating their children. Teachers should also know how to care for children with ScD so that when they have a crisis in school it can be well managed.

Children should desist from stigmatising or ridiculing other children with medical conditions; they should rather show love to them, which is very crucial in their healing process.

Together we can all build a supportive community for children living with this condition to maintain good health.

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