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Waging war against Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

By Priscilla Ntaba

Blantyre, Mana: One of the doctors from Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHES), Stephen Emilio Njolomole, has urged Malawians to avoid close-relation marriages as a way to prevent Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).

In an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Friday, Njolomole said SCD is caused by an abnormal red blood cells gene that causes sickle cell anemia by reduction of red blood levels which is normally due to close relative marriages (consanguineous marriages).

“Some people may have an abnormal gene and do not show any signs or symptoms of SCD, but when two in this scenario marry, they end up having a child with SCD.

“In other countries, screening for sickle cell is advised before marriage but this is not possible in Malawi,” said Njolomole.

Njolomole further said there is need for early diagnosis of sickle cell followed by early treatment.

“In Malawi, we do not have exact figures Sickle Cell Disease prevalence because it is not routinely screened in all infants, although some literature suggests it 1 to 3 per cent.

“To raise awareness on Sickle Cell as we commemorate the day for the disease in the world on June 19, we will have various activities at Blantyre Youth Centre which will start with a solidarity march from Chichiri Upper Stadium,” said Njolomole.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), SCD affects millions of people throughout the world and approximately 300,000 children are born with SCD worldwide each year.

With inadequate diagnosis facilities, support and proper treatment, 50-90 per cent of children may die from the disease in their childhood and that it contributes to 6.4 per cent of under-five mortality in Africa, according to WHO.

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