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Uganda joins world to celebrate ‘Sickle Cell Day’

Members of Uganda Sickle Cell association marching on the streets of Kampala. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Uganda through the Ministry of Health has today June 19 joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Sickle Cell Day.

Under the theme “Caring for Sickle Cell Patients- Get Involved”, the participants will highlight the need for home care as important in caring for sickle cell patients.

The Ministry of Health revealed that Uganda is the 1st country in Africa to map the burden of sickle cell countrywide.

The nationwide survey conducted in 2014 showed a high prevalence of sickle cell trait and disease, with a national average of 13.3% Sickle cell trait and 0.73% sickle cell disease

The Ministry of Health intends to scale up newborn screening services to more high burden districts, and introduce hydroxyurea, which is a disease transforming drug.

The Ministry has also implemented a policy of administering pneumococcal vaccine to children with sickle cell disease above 2 years, to protect them from recurrent infections.

Ministry of Health appeals to the population to test for sickle cell disease and always go for pre-marital testing counseling to know your status.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from a person’s parents. The most common type is known as sickle cell anaemia (SCA). It results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein haemoglobin found in red blood cells.

Sickle cells is an inherited change in the structure of red blood cells in which a mutated form of haemoglobin (Hb) distorts the red blood cells into a ‘sickle shape’. If both parents have the sickle cell trait at each pregnancy, there is a 25% chance that the child will pick the trait from both parents. Sickle cells can only be controlled through such machines that help in diagnosis and once individuals are diagnosed, they can make informed decisions on how to manage their lives.

The major features and symptoms of sickle cell anemia include:

Fatigue and anemia.

Pain crises.

Dactylitis (swelling and inflammation of the hands and/or feet) and arthritis.

Bacterial infections.

Sudden pooling of blood in the spleen and liver congestion.

Lung and heart injury.

Leg ulcers.

Its treatment might include antibiotics, vitamins, blood transfusions, pain-relieving medicines, other medications and possibly surgery, such as to correct vision problems or to remove a damaged spleen.

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