Gulu Regional Hospital Launches Center To Fight Sickle Cells

Gulu officials receiving the computer to serve the new unit



The centre will treat sickle cell patients in the eight district of Acholi sub-region including Gulu City, Gulu district, Kitgum, Pader, Agago, Omoro, Lamwo, Nwoya and Amuru.

The establishment is Ministry of Health’s strategic plan to pilot screening for early detection of signs and symptoms of sickle cell newborn so as to ensure prompt intervention and management.

Dr Charles Oyoo Akiya, the Commissioner in-charge of non-communicable diseases said lango and Acholi sub-regions have overwhelming burden of the sickle cell disease.

His said this come as a result of lack of proper management of sickle cells in the hospitals and medical facilities in the regions.

He said the new centre should help to streamline intervention in sickle cell care and coordinate the efforts of the various stakeholders.

Dr Florence Oyella Atim, the Deputy Director Gulu hospital highlight that the initiative has come timely to support the children who are battling sickle cells in the communities.

Sickle cell is an inherited anemic disorder which cause red blood cells to die early, thereby leaving a person with too few health red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body.

The disorder often manifests into infections, fatigue and pains, necessitating treatment, blood transfusion and at times bone marrow transplant.

Dr Oyella estimated the rate of sickle cell anemia in the region at between 0.7% to 16% among the infants and unborn children.

She further articulated that Gulu hospital started supporting sickle cell patients way back in 1935 and in 2015, a modern clinic was opened for sickle cell treatment.

The centre operates twice a week and also offers routine attendance to social support and screening services.

Since then, the clinic has enrolled 522 patients of sickle cell anemia in 2016, rising to 617 patients in 2017 and in 2018, the cumulative number of patients with sickle cells rose to 976.

Dr Oyella said 72 more people were enrolled for sickle cell treatment in 2020. They are given capsules and psychosocial support.

Dr Oyella however reported shortage of drugs for sickle cells, saying they have not received any supplies in 2021 that the patients have been compelled to source for medication from private facilities.

“The medicines cost between sh60,000 to sh80,000 for newborn babies and many private hospitals lack testing machines,” she told ministry of health officials.

Dr Charles Kiyaga National Program Coordinator for sickle cells revealed that between 20-25 thousands people between the age of 10-15 years die annually worldwide due to sickle cell disorder.

He appealed to medical workers to always test new born babies for sickle cells in order to initiate early treatment for the dangerous disease.

He further appealed to the doctors to coordinate with the local leaders to spread the information about sickle cells and persuade them to fight sickle cell disease among children.

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