The National Government, Kakamega County and other partners have joined efforts to address increasing cases of Haemophilia and Sickle cell diseases in Kakamega and the larger western region.
The Partners include The Kenya Haemophilia Association (KHA) with support from Novo Nordisk haemophilia foundation, World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH), Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH).
The partners made a commitment to scale up efforts to reduce the burden of the diseases while taking care of those already with the disease and also seeking other interventions to stop the two diseases altogether.
Speaking in Kakamega, while commemorating World Hemophilia Day, Kakamega Governor’s wife Priscilla Oparanya vowed to support activities of creating awareness of the conditions to demystify its myths that some were still associating it with witchcraft, hence not seeking medication.
During the event, Mrs. Oparanya unveiled a Haemophilia and sickle cell care clinic at the Kakamega General hospital which will reduce the burden of travelling for patients who sought services at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and other facilities outside the county.
“Haemophilia is an inherited blood disorder that entails spontaneous bleeding which could lead to severe complications if the affected patients are not attended to or appropriately managed,” she explained.
She urged parents to seek early medical attention to avoid complications and asked them to stop associating the disorder to witchcraft.
“Today the cost of managing hemophilic conditions in our society is high and to control the effect there is need for more advocacy and intensive screening activities across all the counties,” she said.
She pointed out that the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) and the partners commenced the fight against the disorder through provision of medical treatment services to low-income patients, hosting gatherings to encourage peer support, infrastructure support, diagnosis, providing education and awareness about Haemophilia in Kenya.
“The Ministry of Health and county governments in collaboration with KHA have been able to train and conduct capacity building to over 400 healthcare providers countrywide to handle hemophilic cases,” she reported.
She added that Kakamega General Hospital has a total of 20 healthcare providers trained to handle haemophilia and sickle cell patients while another 40 are spread out in facilities across the county, with trained surgeons and theatre nurses who will conduct circumcision for the patients to enable them to take part in cultural events.
Speaking in the same event, Prof. Constance Tenge, the Principal Investigator for Sickle Cell disease registry and control project said that the program aims to assess the level of awareness of healthcare providers on sickle cell disease, evaluating the existing healthcare services, registration of persons living with the disorder and determining the hemoglobin variants of various populations including newborns across counties.
Tenge observed that three quarters of sickle cell cases are in Africa as a continent.
She said that sickle cell cases can be controlled if we implement World Health Organization strategies which entails providing the required care and medication for those already with the disease, newborn screening and starting care as early as 2 months and preventing and controlling sickle cell.
“We have a vision to control and put mechanisms in place to have no case of sickle cell by 2030,” she said.
She advised spouses to go for checkups to identify the kind of hemoglobin they have so as to make informed choices on the offspring they will have.
“It is advisable for those people who carry sickle cell genes to get spouses who have normal hemoglobin to reduce the chances of giving birth to children with sickle cell, “she said.
Prof. Tenge explained that if the two parents carry the sickle cell genes chances of getting children with sickle cell is high, hence need for doing tests before bringing up a family.
By Margaret Andeso