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Government urged to increase investment in public education campaigns to combat Sickle Cell Disease

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By Edzorna Francis Mensah

The Member of Parliament for Central Tongu, Alexander Roosevelt Hottordze, has called on the government and its donor partners to increase investment in public education campaigns to raise awareness about Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and improve the lives of those affected by the disease in Ghana.

He also called for investment in the healthcare infrastructure to provide specialised care and support for SCD patients, including training for healthcare providers to take note of symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis.

In a statement read on the floor to observe world sickle cell awareness celebration, which falls on 19th June, the MP encouraged funding research initiatives to find better treatments and, ultimately, a cure for SCD. “Develop and implement policies that provide financial support for families affected by SCD, ensuring they have access to necessary medical care and resources. Establish community-based support programs to provide psychosocial support and reduce stigma and discrimination against individuals with SCD.”

“Despite the progress made, several challenges persist in the fight against sickle cell disease. Many people, especially in rural areas, remain unaware of the disease and its implications. Lack of specialised healthcare facilities and trained personnel hampers effective management of SCD. Individuals with sickle cell disease often face stigma and discrimination, affecting their quality of life. The cost of treatment and management of SCD can be prohibitive for many families, limiting access to necessary care.”

He said, World Sickle Cell Awareness Day is a crucial opportunity for all stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to addressing the challenges posed by sickle cell disease. By raising awareness, advocating for better care, and supporting ongoing research, “we can make significant strides towards improving the lives of those affected by this condition”.

In his view, the disease should be considered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for every individual with sickle cell disease to receive the care and support he or she needs to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

The day is celebrated globally on June 19th and is dedicated to raising awareness about sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic disorder affecting millions worldwide. It is an opportunity to highlight the impact of this disease, advocate for improved care and support for those affected, and promote ongoing research towards a cure.

Sickle cell disease is a significant public health issue affecting millions globally. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that approximately 300,000 babies are born with SCD each year. Most of these births occur in low- and middle-income countries, where adequate healthcare is often limited. The global prevalence of the disease varies, with the highest incidences found in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the Middle East.

Africa bears the heaviest burden of sickle cell disease. Approximately 75% of global SCD cases occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria alone accounting for nearly 100,000 new-borns each year. In many African countries, sickle cell disease contributes significantly to child mortality, with many children not surviving past the age of five due to a lack of early diagnosis and proper medical care. This highlights the urgent need for increased awareness, better healthcare infrastructure, and comprehensive new-born screening programs across the continent.

In Ghana, sickle cell disease is a significant public health concern. It is estimated that around 2% of all new-borns in Ghana are affected by SCD, translating to about 15,000 babies born with the condition each year. The Ghana Health Service reports that sickle cell disease is responsible for a significant proportion of childhood morbidity and mortality.

Despite these challenges, Ghana has made commendable strides in addressing SCD through initiatives such as the National Newborn Screening Program, which has been instrumental in the early detection and management of the disease. ease.

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