Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) is seeking to establish a centre of excellence to combat rising cases of sickle cell disease.
The unit that will provide comprehensive service to patients will help address childhood mortality, considering that up to 90 per cent of individuals with sickle cell disease in Africa don’t reach the age of 18.
Noting that JOOTRH receives an overwhelming number of patients with the blood disorder, CEO George Rae said the move will help reduce sickle cell cases in the larger Western Kenya.
“We envision working together to structure psychosocial support to patients living with sickle cell disease together with their families,” Dr Rae said.
The new centre will bring together paediatricians, sickle cell warriors, the Kisumu blood transfusion centre, the Red Cross, the Tumaini Sickle Cell Organization, Children Sickle Cell Foundation and JOOTRH staff
Magladylne Murogo, the head of Regional Blood Transfusion Centre Kisumu, underlined the need for sickle cell patients to understand the repercussions of having sexual relations with others who have the disease.
“We have a challenge of meeting the demand for blood for needy cases. However, clients should always make requests whenever blood components are required, and we will make them available,” she said.
To curb the disease, she reiterated that a comprehensive diagnosis should be made.
Martin Opondo, from Tumaini Sickle Cell Organisation, emphasised the importance of working with communities and linking clients to the right healthcare providers so that they can get the right medication and other related services.
JOOTRH last month urged compulsory couple testing for sickle cell traits before marriage to reduce the incidence of the genetic disorder.
“Daily, we have children at the casualty suffering from sickle cell, and the number of deaths from this condition continues to sour. We must do something to avert this trend.
“Though couples might be in love, we will advise that they get other partners to avoid bearing children with the inherited disease,” Dr Rae said.
Dr Rae noted that the initiative will be carried out in partnership with the office of the Attorney-General and religious organisations.
It is estimated that over 300,000 babies are born each year with the disease worldwide, with nearly 75 per cent of the births in sub-Saharan Africa.