By Julius K. Satsi/Priscilla N. Nyamekye, GNA
Accra, Oct. 9, GNA - The University of Ghana (UG) in collaboration with the Sickle Cell Condition Advocate, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has commenced a five-day sickle cell screening, calling on the public to check for their sickle cell status.
The exercise is being undertaken as part of the 70th Anniversary celebration of UG to raise awareness of the sickle cell among students and staff as well as encouraging them to check their sickle cell status.
Professor Gordon A. Awandare, the Director of West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious pathogens (WACCBIP), in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said there was the need for everyone to know their sickling status.
He said it was significant for all to know their status because when the sickle cell disease was easily diagnosed, it becomes preventable due to the various management options available for the condition.
He said once people are diagnosed for the sickle cell condition during the screening, they would be referred to the hospital for treatment adding that, there would be counsellors present at the screening centre to assist individuals diagnosed with the condition.
Professor Awandare said if individuals in relationships check their status, they are able to make good decisions to help save their offspring from inheriting the condition, adding that “Most people have children who are ‘sicklers’ but they don’t know until it is too late or the child has suffered for a while”.
He said the condition was prevalent in malaria endemic areas like countries in West Africa, adding that the sickling genes in people who are ‘carriers of the sickle cell (AS-status)’ are usually immune against malaria.
He said WACCBIP was established by the World Bank to provide specialised training for health professionals in West Africa, with expertise in cell and molecular biology and how it is applied to provide a better understanding of diseases both infectious and non-communicable diseases.
On her part, Mrs Charlotte Owusu, the Founder of the Sickle Cell Condition Advocate reiterated that it was important for every adult to know their sickle cell status but said it was best for parents to check the status of new born babies.
he said the condition was preventable if both partners in a relationship to know their status in order to prevent their children from suffering from the condition.
Mrs Owusu said after losing her only daughter at the age of 17 years due to her sickling status (SS-status) in 1995, she had seen how the conditions could deprive a family of their joy apart from spending a lot of money in medications.
She said there was a number of complications associated with the condition, thereby calling on a young people to be know their status before engaging in a marital relationship.
She said currently, there are 75 per cent of people in Ghana without the condition (AA-status), 25 per cent carriers (AS-status) and 2 per cent living with the status including her 40-year old son.
In an interview some of the students after watching a short movie on the need for everyone to check their status, Ms Asantewa Sisi Yaa Bosompem, a Level 400 Cell and Molecular student of the Department of Biochemistry at UG, said it was really important to check one’s status.
She urged young people to check their status saying, “Do not let love blind you to bring problems on your children”.
Mr Emmanuel Edem Adade, a Masters student at the Department of Biochemistry at the University, said every young man should be flexible to take the test and know their status and take precautionary measures.