Hospital commences screening of babies with Sickle Cell

BY: Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah

The Ansu Ababio Paediatric Centre (AAPC) of the Dormaa Presbyterian Hospital at Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Brong-Ahafo Region has launched the National Newborn Sickle Cell Disease Screening Programme to commence the screening of sickle cell babies.

The AAPC is the third hospital besides Komfo Anokye and the Korle-Bu Teaching hospitals to launch the programme to screen newborn babies for the detection of sickle cell to ensure the management of the disease at the early stage.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, the National Nurse Coordinator of the National Newborn Screening Programme for Sickle Cell Disease, Madam Mary Lamptey, stated that currently over 6,000 babies identified as having sickle cell were being managed by medical doctors at the Sickle Cell Clinic at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi.

She said 8500 out of over 504,000 babies, who had undergone screening by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana (SCFG) since 1995 under the Newborn Sickle Cell Screening Programme, were identified as having the disease.

Unsuccessful plan

Madam Lamptey said the SCFG, which is a non-governmental organisation, commenced and implemented the programme for 15 years before the then Minister of Health (MOH), Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, launched the National Newborn Screening Programme for Sickle Cell Disease under the Ministry of Health in November 2011.

She said even though there was a plan that every regional hospital would have an established sickle cell clinic by 2015 for the commencement of newborn screening throughout the country, that plan had not yet materialised.

According to her, it was only last year when a pharmaceutical company, Feisal, provided funds for the launch of the programme at the country’s premier hospital, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

Under-five mortality

Madam Lamptey explained that for many years, Ghana had sought to bring down under-five mortality through the formulation of a number of programmes.

She said even though a lot had been done to control under-five mortality, the rate was still high, adding that research had proven that children, who were identified early for having sickle cell disease and put on penicillin, survived the first five years.

Exclusive breastfeeding

For her part, a Medical Officer at the AAPC, Dr Abenaa Adjapong, advised lactating mothers to ensure that their babies were exclusively fed with breastmilk during their first six months to enable them to grow healthy to withstand early childhood diseases.