Kitgum Hospital Struggles to Manage Sickle Cell Cases

1270 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
Kitgum General Hospital started managing sickle cell patients earlier this year. The hospital manages an average of 15 children under 2 years with the disease and in need of blood transfusion weekly. At least 3 new cases in children between 0 and 2 years are diagnosed at the hospital weekly.

Kitgum General Hospital is struggling to manage sickle cell patients as shortage of blood takes its toll on the hospital.

More patients continue to trek in for treatment amidst reports that at least 40 units of blood are sent from Gulu Regional Blood Bank to the hospital.

Sickle Cell anaemia is a hereditary disease that affects the red blood cells as a result of lack of or insufficient oxygen supply, manifested in the cells taking a sickle shape and making it difficult for blood flow in the body. 

Kitgum General Hospital started managing sickle cell patients earlier this year. The hospital manages an average of 15 children under 2 years with the disease and in need of blood transfusion weekly. At least 3 new cases in children between 0 and 2 years are diagnosed at the hospital weekly. 

Dr. Geoffrey Akena, the Medical superintendent Kitgum General Hospital, says the they are faced with the major challenge of blood insufficiency since infant malaria cases account for over 60% of the blood utilisation in the hospital. This at a time when community attitude towards blood donation is negative.

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The Ministry of Health states in its 2015 Uganda Sickle Cell Surveillance Study that 135 out of 1,000 children have the disease.At least 20,000 children are believed to inherit the disease at birth annually of which 70-80 percent succumb to it before reaching their 5th birthday. 

Dr. Sam Uringtho, the Director Gulu Regional Blood Bank has expressed worry over the low level of blood collection in the region which according to him is becoming a trend and negative indicator for the health system in the region. 

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Nationally approximately 240,000 units of blood are donated annually far below the World Health Organisation recommended one percent of the population of Uganda, that would place the units needed annually at 340,000.

Some other challenges in the management of the disease include lack of diagnostic kits, lack of suitable transportation for blood samples for examination and delays in the arrival of test results from the Uganda National health laboratory services in Kampala.  

 

About the author

Annet Lekuru
Annet Lekuru is the Uganda Radio Network bureau chief for Arua. She is new in this post, assigned August 2016. However, she is no stranger to URN subcribers and readers.

Lekuru started her journalism career in 2011 with training from Radio Paris where she worked until April 2015. She started writing for URN in May 2015 as a freelance reporter.

Lekuru loves and continues to admire URN because of the reporter privilege to identify and report on issues close to one's heart which offers an opportunity to the reporter to develop a passion in a beat and report on it exhaustively.

With a background training in Conflict Sensitive Journalism she hopes to graduate into doing remarkable and recognised human rights and human interest stories in the near future.

She is interested in reporting on issues of justice, law, human rights and health.