The Founder and CEO of Sickle Life and Haematology at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Sefakor Enam Bankas has said due to the seriousness of the sickle cell disease, it is important for the Ghana Health Service and government, to channel its attention to creating awareness to help the public consider their choice of partners and their compatibility to prevent couples who are not compatible from giving birth.
She said the time has come for government to give equal attention to sickle cell disease like its given to HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.
She explained that every year, 15,000 babies in Ghana are born with sickle cell disease; indicating that about ninety percent of children who were born with the disease die before age 5. This she described as very worrying.
“300,000 babies are estimated to be born globally with the disease every year and more than half of this number is in Sub-Sahara Africa. 15,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease in Ghana every year.
Also, 90% of children born with sickle cell disease in Sub Saharan Africa die from the disease. These are alarming statistics but because we keep hearing them, they seem to have lost their impact. We know this statistics but nothing has changed”, Dr.Enam Bankas said.
Speaking on this year’s theme dubbed: “Combating Sickle Cell Disease Through Stakeholder Support” in Accra last Friday, Dr. Enam Bankas said the role of advocacy in fighting the disease has been downplayed.
She said a document released by the World Health Organization recommending ways to fight the disease has been ignored because no attention has been given to persons living with the disease in the country.
According to her, a national strategy towards the fight against sickle cell will help in early screening and treatment among babies to prevent the late detection of cases when they have reached complicated levels.
She disclosed that the life expectancy for sickle cell patients across the world has increased but unfortunately, Ghana’s case is different.
Dr. Enam Bankas explained further that countries around the world have been exposed to research and better therapies that are supporting persons living with the disease to live longer than they are expected to.
She therefore called on government to make provision for sickle cell disease treatments and medicines to be put on the National Health Insurance System because sickle cell medications are costly.
She also used the opportunity to call on private and government agencies to join in the fight against the disease.
Also on the media, Dr. Enam Bankas appealed to them to use their platforms just as they are doing for COVID-19 to advocate and create awareness about the disease.
The coalition of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a group of Non-governmental organizations that have come together to create awareness and support for persons living with Sickle Cell disease in Ghana. The group is made up of:
Sickle Cell Awareness Initiative
Sickle Strong Warriors Foundation
Ghana Society of Haematology