World Health Organisation data shows that 15,000 to 20,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease annually in Sub Saharan Africa. At least 80 percent of them die before their fifth birthday. The national sickle cell survey carried out in 2013 shows that over four million people carry the sickle cell trait in Uganda while over 263,000 people have the disease.
The National Sickle Cell Coordinator at the Ministry of Health Charles Kiyaga says that due to limited budgetary allocations, there is limited sensitization on control of sickle cell diseases. As a result, couples get married without screening, exposing their offspring to abnormal hemoglobin genes.
Kiyaga was speaking to Uganda Radio Network after the sickle cell walk, one of the events that organized to create public awareness about the disease in Kampala today.
He says that currently the government funds sickle cell under the non- communicable diseases budget which includes cancers and heart disease among others. He adds that with the single basket, less attention is paid to sickle cell.
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According to the World Health Organisation, 15,000 to 20,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease annually in Sub Saharan Africa. At least 80 percent of them die before their fifth birthday. The national sickle cell survey carried out in 2013 shows that over four million people carry the sickle cell trait in Uganda while over 263,000 people have the disease.
Dr Jessica Nsungwa, the assistant commissioner for health services says that although the health ministry does not push for independent budgets, there is need to put more focus on sickle cell.
She adds that if the public is not sensitized enough about this disease, many carriers will up marrying each other which will increase the number of babies born with the disease.
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Sickle cell disease is a hereditary blood disorder in which the red blood cells produce abnormal hemoglobin. This abnormal hemoglobin makes the cells sickle-shaped (they become shaped like the sickle instead of the round doughnut-like shape normal cells have).
Scientists say that sickle cells cannot perform the functions of normal red blood cells, for example, transporting oxygen properly around the body.