By Ronald Kabuye
Ministry of health permanent secretary Dr. Diana Atwine has said that the current research under the ministry of health indicate that sickle cell disease accounts for 30% maternal mortality rate in the country.
It’s on this note that Dr. Atwine, other health experts and advocates have urged the public to have premarital testing in order to avoid the prevalence of the disease.
Dr. Atwine also revealed that soon, three transplant centres will opened up with one almost completed at Mulago National referral hospital and other two will be set up at the Uganda cancer institute and at the yet to be constructed International specialized hospital in lubowa.
It should be noted that sickle cell disease can only be cured through bone marrow transplant which system Uganda lacks.
However this to become a reality there must be an enabling law thus the developing of the organs transplant bill.
The ministry of health also wants to incorporate Hydroxeria drug into the sickle cell treatment. The same drug was proved to be one of the best drug to work on the condition, the same is used for cancer and HIV/AIDS treatment.
In abide to fight against the disease the ministry has established several interventions including setting up 20 sickle cell clinics across the country and partnering with both religious and cultural leaders for massive awareness and sensitization against the disease.
This has been revealed during the commemoration of the world sickle cell day held under the theme: let’s care
Where it has been emphasized that sickle cell is a genetic disease as opposed to witchcraft thus a call to have everyone including the newborns tested.
There is also ongoing sickle cell screening at hotel Africana in Kampala at no cost.
Available research also indicate that the treaty, disease and genetic prevalence in the country stands at 13.3%, 7.3% and 15% respectively while out of the 25,000 newborns with sickle cell disease 20,000 that’s 80% die and 20% of the population are carriers with Busoga region being the most affected followed Teso, acholi and central regions.
Ruth Nankanja Mukiibi, the executive director of Sickle cell Assocciation of Uganda called upon the government and ministry of health to increase the funding to counter the disease especially in medication, awareness and sensitization in order to eliminate stigma and stereo types that must times forces those affected into hiding.
She also called upon parents of the affected persons not to limit their children but rather support them by caring and disciplining them.
The minister for health in the Buganda kingdom Dr. Ben Kiwanuka Mukwaya requested government and ministry to divert the funds used to fight malaria to fight sickle diseases since its prevalence has great reduced from over 40% to 2%.