Sickle Cell is common among newborns all over the world. The arrival of a new baby after months of waiting comes along with bundles of joy for the parents. However, this joy is short-lived once the parents realize the newborn has a disorder. Emotions shift at the sight of health issues, to be precise health issues that may affect the baby for their entire lives. Health disorders that bring along such emotions include Sickle Cells. Parents with babies who suffer from Sickle Cells live their lives differently to accommodate them. However, The World Health Organization has come up with new updates to increase the survival rates and growth of these children.
Sickle Cell Diagnosis.
Thirty-eight-year-old Mary Wamai is a mother of four. Three of her children were diagnosed with sickle cell disease. During the first six years, she had no idea of the diagnosis, and she brought up her firstborn child like any other. Mary knew their conditions when the first child was six years old. Since the diagnosis, her life has never been the same.
She had never known about the disease before her children were diagnosed with it. Therefore, shortly after the diagnosis, she had to adjust her lifestyle. She had to change the diet she cooked for her children. More so, she has to make career sacrifices. Despite being a teacher, she has to leave work earlier to be with the children. Most promotions come with more work and, at times, change of location, and this is not an option for her. She has to stay behind and prioritize her family.
“My career life is not very progressive compared to others; however, these are among the sacrifices I have to make for me to take care of my children,” Mary says.
Early Screening saves lives.
The World Health Organization records about 200,000 babies who are born with sickle cells annually in Africa, which is 80% of the worldwide figure. However, half of them die before they get to five years. Experts discovered that many could be saved if screening is done early; therefore, they can begin medication early.
“If babies are diagnosed with sickle cells early, they could start medication from as young as two months of age. The dose will be twice daily for up to five years,” Says Professor Kwaku Othene -Frempong, the president of Sickle Cell Foundation.
The medication will protect the babies from the leading cause of death, which is infections. However, the development of newborn screening programs is slow in most countries.
Sickle Cell Day.
Statistics show that 2% of all babies have sickle cells in Ghana. The government and relevant bodies are putting in more effort to increase awareness of the disease. Parents can receive free information about this illness that affects the red blood cells. They also get free counseling on how to raise these babies despite them having sickle cell disease.
Early diagnosis and screening, accompanied by comprehensive care, increase the survival rates for babies. To date, Ghana has 11 baby screening facilities and sickle cell treatment centers. World sickle cell day was marked on 19th June. During this day, the public is emphasized on the importance of knowing about the disease. However, apart from knowledge, parents also require commitment and sustainable strategies. Private and public spheres have agreed on ensuring the future of African babies with sickle cell disease is better and longer.