Medics want more awareness on sickle cells, treatment clinics
Posted Monday, January 28 2013 at 02:00
Challenge. Sicklers are perceived as a burden while there are few sickle cell clinics in the country and treatment remains expensive.
Medical experts have called for more sensitasation campaigns against the continued stigmatisation of children and adults suffering from sickle cell anaemia.
Dr Benard Opal, the principal medical officer in-charge of curative services in the Ministry of Health, said outlets for people with sickle cells remain few in a country where sicklers are considered a burden due to lack of awareness .
“Many patients are still undermined and considered a burden. Many still think that sicklers are people who cannot contribute to development yet we have high-profile personalities who are sicklers but contribute to development,” Dr Opal said.
He made the call at the commissioning of a sickle cell clinic at Kasana Health Centre IV built by Holly Foundation Sickle Cell Clinic in Luweero District last Friday.
Dr Opal called for more sickle cell clinics, saying the country currently had only one with more than 70,000 patients.
Prof. Christopher Ndugwa, the in-charge of the sickle cell clinic at Mulago Hospital, said the disease is less attended to yet recent statistics indicate that 25,000 children are born with it annually.
“It is also true that the technology for curing sickle cell is expensive and unavailable in Uganda, but bone marrow transplant can be done in developed countries, including the US where it costs about $50,000[Shs130m],”Prof. Ndugwa said.
The acting manager of Holly Foundation Sickle Cell Clinic, Mr Isaac Ssebakije, said the facility had so far registered at least 114 sicklers from Luweero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola districts yet the clinic opens once a week.
“We are at times overwhelmed by the patient turn-up for services at Kasana Health Centre yet our resources are limited. Some sicklers need drips and blood transfusion but we do not have these services,” Mr Ssebakije said.
He said they need a blood bank and medical equipment to undertake analysis and confirmatory results for sickle cells and urged the government to partner with the clinic.