Rural Voices



New Sickle Cell Clinic establish for the north

Posted by Npong on May 9, 2011 at 5:02 AM

A newly established sickle cell clinic designed to cater for sickle cell patients through counseling, education and advocacy to empower would-be marriage couples to make informed choices to limit the risk of the disease would soon be inaugurated in Tamale.

The facility which is located within the Tamale Teaching Hospital was an initiative of the ministry of Health, Tamale Teaching Hospital and Sickle Cell Condition Advocates (SICCA) is part of efforts to prevent the spread and or eradicate sickle cell conditions in Ghana within the shortest possible time through pre-conception screening, advocacy and counseling.

The founder of Sickle Cell Condition Advocates (SICCA) Madam Charlotte Owusu who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with the Enquirer in Tamale during sickle cell screening and blood donation exercise indicated that about 16,000 new babies in Ghana are born with sickle cell conditions each year, an alarming rate she said if not checked could have negative effects on the country’s labour force in the near future.

Madam Owusu said more than one hundred health personnel including nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians, and health specialists in the region have been given training on diagnosis; treatment; care and prevention of sickle cell disease to enable them handle patients who would be visiting the clinic. 

She stated that about 22% to 25% of the Ghana’s population has sickle cell trait but was unaware of this devastating conditions hence the need for intensive advocacy campaign on the disease. According to her their feasibility studies in northern Ghana revealed that a sizeable number of the population has sickle cell trait or disease.

She commended the management of the Tamale Teaching Hospital, and the ministry of Health for helping in the establishment of the clinic in the northern region saying it was a turning point to creating awareness on the disease.

She hoped other regions would also replicate the same and make sickle treatment accessible to the people to help reduce the risk of managing the disease.

He appealed to the people to patronize the clinic when finally commissioned to help the fight agisnt the sickle cell. Madam Owusu stressed that so far there has not been known cure for the disease but the patient could manage it with a daily intake of folic acid. 

She appealed to people to seek counseling, and testing before marrying and that many people were killing their children with the disease in the name of love saying testing and counseling could help one prevent such devastating conditions within the family.

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited disorder in which red blood cells are abnormally shaped. This abnormality can result in serious infections, chronic anemia and damage to body organs. Each person can have different forms of complications from the disorder. Some children for instance remain relatively healthy while others are frequently hospitalized.

Sickle cell has various forms which are determining by the genes inherited from the child’s parents. For example a child who inherit a sickle cell gene from one parent and a different kind of abnormality gene from the other and end up with a different form sickle cell disease such as hemoglobin, SC disease or hemoglobin s-thalassenmia while others who inherit only one sickle cell gene and normal gene from the other parent will have the sickle cell trait, but not the disease. Children with sickle cell disease have two inherited, defected hemoglobin genes. The hemoglobin gene can take on an abnormal shape, distorting the shape of the red blood cell. The cells change from a normal round, doughnut shape to the elongated shape of a sickle cell letter “C”.

 Sickle cells are usually stiff and pointed, unlike normal red blood cells which move easily through small blood vessel. Their shape means that they have a tendency to get stuck in narrow blood vessels and block. This can cause severe pain in the child and lead to organ damage due to the cells not getting enough oxygen. Sickle cells have a shorter than normal life span, which leads to a low red blood cell count. Normal red blood cells can live up to approximately 120 days whereas a sickle cell lives for only 10 to 20 days.


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