By Ronald Kabuye
Ministry of Health has revealed that at least 80% out of the 25,000 babies born with sickle cell disease in Uganda die before their 5th birthday despite the numerous medical and sensitization campaign put in place by both government and Non government organization.
This has been revealed by the ministry’ permanent secretary Dr. Diana Atwine at a press conference for the commemoration of the world sickle cell day slated for the 19th of this month at Kamuli District headquarters under the theme break the silence.
According to the ministry’ national wide sickle cell survey conducted in 2014 it put the national sickle cell trait prevalence at 13.3% while diseases prevalence stands at 0.73%, with mid north, east central, bulisa and bundibugyo trait prevalence standing at 20% and disease at more that 1%.
49 out of 112 districts have a trait prevalence of more than 15% contributing to 47% of the national disease burden and these include Kampala, Gulu, Lira, Jinja, Tororo, Luweero, Wakiso, Apac, Iganga, Mayuge, Buikwe, Oyam, Masaka and Masinde.
Dr. Atwiine revealed that as part of fighting the disease, the ministry embarked on a comprehensive program aiming at reducing the burden of the disease and part of it was setting up the newborn sickle cell screening center at the central public laboratories with a capacity to run 8,000 samples per week of children below two years, 20 sickle cell clinics across the country were opened up and partnering with civil society, cultural institution and engaging political figures to help in sensitization campaigns and funding.
“I appeal to the public to support people suffering from Sickle cell disease and their families, take babies below two years for testing to know their status early and go for pre- marital screening” said Atwine
She added that the 80 percent who die before making their fifth birthday have highly contributed to the number of infant mortality rates.
Sickle cell disease is agenetic disorder affecting red blood cells making them unable to efficiently carry oxygen around the body cells. The abnormality is inherited from both parents if both carry the abnormal genes as carriers or sicklers as opposed to witchcraft as some people assert.
By Ronald Kabuye