Accra – This year’s World Sickle Cell Awareness Day was launched in Accra with a call on the general public to desist from stigmatising people with the sickle cell condition. The call was made by Dr. Linda Vanooto, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service. She said, sickle cell is manageable when the condition is well understood.
The press launch of the Day was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Accra in collaboration with Sickle Cell Condition Advocates (SICCA), a local NGO to create awareness among Ghanaians about the condition which affects as much as 18,000 babies in the country each year.
In a presentation, highlighting the state of sickle cell in Ghana, the Head of the Ghana Institute of Clinical Genetics, Dr. Ivy Ekem said sickle cell is a significant health problem in 71% per cent of 229 countries worldwide. It accounts for about 3.4% of deaths in children less than 5 years of age in the country with 2% of children at birth having the condition.
The local theme for this year’s celebration is Know your Sickle Cell Status. The Vice Chairperson of SICCA, Dr. T. K. Caiquo explained in a statement that “For the simple reason that as a country we do not have enough resources to care for people with sickle cell condition, we need to prevent its occurrence.” He noted that we can only prevent it when we know our status early enough.
UNIC Accra screened a video documentary it produced following a visit to the Sickle Cell Clinic at the country’s premiere Teaching Hospital, Korle-Bu.
MDS-Lancet Laboratory Ghana limited provided free screening of the audience and media at the event.