NGO holds Sickle Cell awareness walk

Accra- About 15,000 babies are born annually with the sickle cell disease in the country.

Out of the number, 50 to 89 percent die before attaining age five, a situation if not controlled could deprive the nation of her national assets.

Miss Esi Duker, President of the Sickle Cell Awareness Initiative (SCAI), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), said this at the end of a health walk held in Accra on Saturday.

The walk, which started at the premises of Perez Dome at Dzorwulu, to the Military Hospital, through some principal streets of the capital, ended at the starting point.

It was aimed at creating awareness on the dangers of the sickle cell disease.

Miss Duker said this happened because carriers of the sickle cell genes were ignorant about the disease and only found out when children related to them were diagnosed with the disease.

She said sickle cell is the most commonly inherited blood disease in the world and affected people in various countries.

The President said parents who were both ‘A.S.’ could give birth to children who had normal blood A.A, A.S. or S.S., adding that there were four other types of the disease but S.S. was the most common type in the country.

Miss Duker said people who carried a genetic trait often carried abnormal gene and a normal version of the same gene, one from each parent and in many conditions, you need a double dose of the gene from both parents before a disease can manifest.

She said a different protein called haemoglobin was made in the red cells of people with the disease adding that they made a slightly different form of the protein that carried oxygen in the body which is called the sickle haemoglobin.

Miss Duker said when the sickle haemoglobin was not carrying the oxygen it behaved differently and forced the red blood cells to ‘squeeze’ through small blood vessels to become stiff and very sticky and could block the flow of blood in the body.

‘When the highly fatal disease is diagnosed early, parents can be advised on how to take care of their children to ensure that they survive’, she said.

The occasion was also used to donate blood to stock some blood banks in the country.

Source: Ghana News Agency