30% of Newborns Carry Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell anaemia
A quarter of all newborn babies in the country are carriers of the sickle cell disease, Professor George A. Ankrah-Badu at the Ghana Institute for Clinical Genetics (GICG), has disclosed at the celebration of the World this year’s Sickle Cell Day in Accra.

He said two percent of all newborn babies in the country also have the sickle cell condition, which is caused by the inheritance of two abnormal haemoglobins.

The event, celebrated worldwide, was to create awareness of sickle cell disease and appeal to the public to know their status, while calling for stigmatisation of the disease to end.

Educating the public in a 45 minutes lecture, Prof G.A Ankrah-Badu said the presence of the abnormal state causes among other things, a sluggish flow of blood and its attendant effects.

He further added that sickle cell patients deal with a lot of physical and mental challenges, ‘but stigmatisation has the greatest effect on them, and I therefore appeal to the public to stop stigmatising sickle cell patients.’

According to him, polygamy served as a contributory factor to the spread of sickle cell disease and so encouraged the public to know their prospective partners’ status before tying the knot.

‘Failure to do so could result in the couple giving birth to children with the disease,’ he said.

Professor Ankrah-Badu also urged sickle cell patients to be cautious of excessive alcohol intake, excessive stress, acidosis, dehydration and infections, which could arouse the reactions of the disease.

He finally sought the help of the Ministry of Health (MoH) to provide the sickle cell sector with more doctors to provide services to the affected patients.

The Chief Director of MoH, Madam Salamata Abdul-Salam, said, ‘Millions of people are dying from this disease due to the ignorance. I would encourage the health sector and the media to continue informing the public about the canker.

‘The health sector can assist to manage the disease and provide help for patients,’ she assured.

The GICG is planning to collaborate with the Ghana health sector, NGOs and other stakeholders to join hands and tackle the disease.

By Rita Oduro

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