Women with Sickle Cell Disease have a high risk of complications during pregnancy - Dr Wiredu
Women with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) have a high risk of complications during pregnancy, especially those with severe SCD, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Hospital, Dr Charles Wiredu Oppong has disclosed.
According to him, sickle cell disease was among the top 10 causes of maternal mortality in the country explaining that pregnant women with SCDs were more likely to suffer health problems during pregnancy than pregnant women without SCD.
Dr Oppong disclosed this in an interview with Graphic Online during the celebration of the SDA Hospital Sickle Cell Association to mark the World SCD Day at the SDA Hospital at Fiapre near Sunyani in the Bono region.
The association observed the day under the theme: “Sickle Cell is real, Youth know your status now, prevent SCD tomorrow”.
He said pregnant women with more severe sickle cell disease were more likely to lose their life or the unborn baby while in its mother’s womb, encounter miscarriage within three months of pregnancy, give birth to low weight or small babies due to the complications and delivery-related complications.
“Pregnancy in itself is a risk factor for crisis. Pregnancy reduces the immune system of a pregnant woman and that reduce their ability to fight diseases which make them prone to infections”, he stated, explaining that some of the crisis could be deadly.
Dr Oppong mentioned malaria and other Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs) as some of the common infections among pregnant women with SCD in the region.
He explained that an acute chest syndrome, where there was a blockage of blood flow particularly in the lungs of a pregnant woman could led to death.
Dr Oppong also explained that women with the disease trying to conceive sometimes had challenges in getting pregnant and advised mothers to check the sickle cell status of their babies to help reduce complications.
He advised SCD patients, especially women to adopt the habit of checking their health status regularly to avoid pregnancy complications and needless deaths during pregnancy and delivery respectively.
Dr Oppong said it was advisable for pregnant women with SCD to visit health facility every two weeks for the identification of risk factors and prevention.
The Ophthalmologist of the SDA Hospital, Dr Louis Oteng Gyimah, said a total of about 400,000 people worldwide were born with the disease each year, explaining that about 84 per cent of them were found in Sub-Saharan Africa.
He said SCD was not demonic rather a genetic disorder as a result of some changes in the gene of the red cell responsible for carrying oxygen around the body, explaining that if the changes occurred then it affect how the body supplies oxygen in the body.
Dr Gyimah advised the public to always consider checking their sickle cell status before getting marriage because the disease was passed from parent to child.
That, according to him, could help reduced the risk of given birth to sickle cell children and explained that the diseases could cause blindness.
Dr Gyimah therefore advised the sickle cell patients to regularly visit eye health facilities for screening and treatment to prevent loss of sight.
Lack of equipment
He said there were a few eye care specialists, especially ophthalmologist and medical tools and equipment for the screening of sickle cell patients in some health facilities in Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions.
Dr Gyimah mentioned indirect ophthalmoscope, fundus camera and laser machine as some of the tools and equipment needed for the screening of sickle cell patient’s eyes for early detection and treatment.
He called on the individuals, organisations and institutions to support the facilities to procure such equipment to provide comprehensive eye care for sickle cell patients and other diseases.
For her part, a Physician Assistant at the SDA Hospital, Mrs Angelina Amoatemaa, who is the President of the association mentioned lack of fund for the purchase of sickle cell drugs as some a major challenge facing members of the association.