A Medical Officer at the Ghana Institute of Clinical Genetics (Sickle Cell Clinic), Dr Sylvester Mensah, has called for the expansion of the Sickle Cell Clinic at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the provision of adequate logistics to enable the clinic to operate efficiently to enhance quality healthcare for persons living with sickle cell, especially in emergency situations.
He also appealed to health authorities to ensure that the clinic was open at all times.
“The sickle cell disease (SCD) is volatile in nature in that if it is not responded to on time, it could lead to severe complications, including death.
It will serve the interest of patients if this facility is upgraded to offer a 24-hour service. That means that the facility has to be expanded and provided with the needed logistics and technology to enhance service delivery in line with international best practices,” he added.
Dr Mensah made the appeal in an interview with the Daily Graphic during a walk organised by the Sickle Cell Clinic in Accra last Saturday as part of activities marking this year’s World Sickle Cell Day celebrations.
World Sickle Cell Day is observed on June 19 every year to spread awareness of the sickle cell disease and to educate the public on matters relating to the disease.
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The 2019 national programme was on the theme: “Blood is thicker than water.”
The event focuses on the proper care and safety of sickle patients and emerging preventive measures to be adopted.
Situation of Ghana
It is estimated that between 7,000 and 12,000 out of 15,000 new-born babies are diagnosed with sickle cell in Ghana every year.
Currently, it is only the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra and the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi that have sickle cell centres to test and treat new-born babies with the disease.
In 2016, the two facilities tested 26,000 new-borns for the disease while a total of 11,554 and 8,731 new-borns were tested for the disease in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
A Medical Officer at the Department of Haematology at the KBTH, Dr Enam Sefakor Bankas, expressed concern over what she described as the increasing misconceptions surrounding the SCD, including the belief that the disease is spiritual.
As a result, there was stigmatisation against sickle cell patients in some parts of the country.
According to her, the disease was purely genetic and had no spiritual linkages. She stressed that “SCD is not spiritual. It is purely genetic.
It occurs when there is a change in the DNA, causing red blood cells to become abnormal and those abnormal cells block vessels, which leads to some complications, thus making the symptoms of the disease manifest itself.”
Dr Bankas, who is also the founder of Sickle Life, a non-governmental organisation, therefore, advised parents whose children have been diagnosed with the disease to seek medical care on time.