The people of Uganda, this year, join the rest of the world to commemorate World Sickle Cell Day. In that spirit, the Ministry of Health is ambitiously appealing to couples to carry out Sickle Cell screening before marriage.
Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health explained that Sickle cell disease is inherited from both parents if both carry the abnormal genes as carriers or sicklers. The sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder affecting red blood cells making them unable to efficiently carry oxygen around the body cells.
Dr. Atwine, who was addressing a press conference ahead of World Sickle Cell day on Monday 19th June in Kamui district, explained that people with Sickle Cell disease usually suffer from recurrent bacterial and malaria infections, body and bone pains, and many other life threatening complications.
The United Nations, World Health Organisation and African Union declared Sickle Cell a major public health problem contributing substantially to under-‐five childhood mortality especially in Sub-‐Saharan Africa.
A survey by the health ministry indicated that the disease poses a 'significantly high burden'. The national Sickle Cell trait prevalence currently stands at 13.3% while disease prevalence stands at 0.73%.
Dr. Atwine also appeals to parents to take babies less than two years for sickle cell testing to know their status early and take care of them properly in case they are found to be having the disease. She similarly urged the public to the public to support people suffering from sickle cell disease and their families.
"Take the patients to the nearest health facility for care and treatment. Don’t take them to the shrines because sickle cell disease is NOT witchcraft." said Dr. Atwine. The World Sickle Cell Day will be commemorated under the theme “Break the silence”. The speaker Parliament of Uganda Rebecca Kadaga will be the chief guest in her home district of Kamuli.