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12.05.2007 Health

Sickle cell disease is dominant in Africa

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About 400,000 babies born in Africa yearly are with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) of which 14,200 are Ghanaian babies born with the genetic disease.

Dr. Mrs. Jemima Dennis-Antwi, the past Vice-president of the Ashanti Regional branch of SCD Association of Ghana, said this at the Annual Africa Day Celebration of SCD in Kumasi on Thursday.

The theme for the celebration was "Fathers Active Involvement: An Essential Tool for SCD Case Management".

She said SCD affected 20 births in every 1,000 live babies annually in the Sub-Sahara Africa as compared to 1,000 babies in the United States and 200 babies in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Dennis-Antwi said her own research showed that the disease could be inherited from both mother and father of a child.

She said the disease was not inherited from the mother who carries the foetus for nine months and not all patients have episodic pain, yellow eyes, smallish features and continually fall sick and have big stomach as symptoms of the disease.

Dr. Dennis-Antwi therefore urged fathers to assist their wives to take care of their SCD children.

Dr. Kofi Asare, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health Science, said that SCD patients could be brilliant in school and advised such students to study hard by using their time profitably before their case periods whereby they could fall sick.

He appealed to the government to support patients with SCD by helping them to get free treatment under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Hajia Alima Mahama, Minister for Women and Children's Affairs in a speech read for her, pledged to establish SCD centre at the Kumasi Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).

Dr. K. E. Appiah, National Chairman of the Sickle Cell Association of Ghana, expressed dissatisfaction about how SCD patients were neglected by African leaders.

He therefore urged them to have pragmatic policies to safe guard and protect their lives.

Source: GNA

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