GNPC pledges support to fight against sickle cell disease

Accra, June 9, GNA – Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is committed to support activities that could make sustainable and lasting impact on Ghanaians, Mrs Carmen Bruce-Annan, Corporate Affairs Manager of the national oil company has said.

Speaking at the launch of a workshop organised by the Sickle Cell Foundation- Ghana to build the capacity of counsellors in Accra on Monday, Mrs Bruce-Annan said a look at the statistics on the sickle cells condition looks startling and affects everyone.

‘We are committed to things that affect our people, where we can make a sustainable and lasting impact on our people,’ Mrs Bruce-Annan said.

She pledged GNPC’s continued support to the work of the Foundation to give relief to persons born with the Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).

The Foundation, expressed appreciation to GNPC for its support which made it possible for the workshop, dubbed: ‘Genetic Education and Counselling for Sickle Cell Conditions in Ghana (GENECIS-Ghana) to take place.’

GNPC is supporting the Foundation to implement the Scale-up Plan of the National Newborn Screening Programme for SCD, under a proposed four-year plan.

The plan, if implemented, would expand newborn screening to all districts by the end of 2017/2018.

The workshop was part of a programme to enable the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana recruit the best qualified personnel, train Ghanaian health workers, and develop the education and awareness programmes for pregnant women and the public.

Dr Gloria Quansah Asare, Deputy Director-General of Ghana Health Service, said it is important that everyone knows their genetic makeup as far as the SCD is concerned adding that genetic counselling and screening could lead to substantial reduction in the number of children born with the trait.

She said SCD is the most common serious inherited disease in Africa and in people of African ancestry.

She urged the would be parents to check their status before deciding to marry; since AS couples stand the chance of have one of their children being a sufferer of the SCD.

The Deputy Director-General said people with SCD could live long if they protect themselves from malaria and other infections more so it is important for them to always drink plenty water.

The SCD is a serious disease with many complications including severe anaemia, frequent attacks of severe pain (‘crisis’), stroke, infections and ultimately, early death.

Newborn screening is a public health programme in which newborns are tested for serious diseases that could lead to early death, or severe and irreparable damage, and with such screening those diagnosed with such those diseases could be introduced to preventive interventions.

In 1993, Professor Kwaku Ohene -Frempong introduced newborn Screening for SCD to Ghana and Africa with a pilot research project entitled: ‘New Born Screening For Sickle Cell Disease In Ghana’, funded by the US National Institute of Health.

From 1995 to 2008 the project screened without charge, more than 255,000 babies in Kumasi and Tikrom, a nearby rural community.

The study estimated that more than 14,000 babies are born in Ghana annually, amounting to two per cent of all births.

In November 2011, the government launched the National Newborn Screening Programme for SCD, with the goal to scale up the pilot project into a universal programme offering screening for SCD to all babies born in Ghana.

The secondary goal of the proposed programme is to reduce under -five childhood mortality due to SCD as part of the plan to meet the Millennium Development Goal four.

GNA


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