The Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services has shone the light on sickle cell as a disease that needs much attention just like any other public health concern. This was on the occasion of World Sickle Cell Awareness Day 2021 at Bonaberi Baptist Health Centre Douala (BBHCD).
Dr. Kifem Vincentia, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) revealed during the commemoration that nine percent (9%) of Cameroonians are suffering from sickle cell disease, with about 22 % being careers. From the statistics, we [you] can conclude that it is high time we start investing in it because it matters like any other chronic disease. Therefore we are by this celebration involving the media to keep talking about sickle cell in a bid to increase public awareness, she said.
The pinnacle of the day was the launching of a sickle cell clinic at BBHCD. According to Dr. Kifem, the clinic will be a rallying point for children suffering from sickle cell disease fondly called warriors to come for regular follow-up. It will equally be an opportunity for them to interact, share problems, experiences when in crisis as well as receive health education which can improve their health and quality of life, she added.
According to the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa, Sickle-cell disease is the most prevalent genetic disease in the Region. In many countries, 10%–40% of the population carries the sickle-cell gene resulting in an estimated prevalence of at least 2%.
Quizzed on how to tend the tides on the burden of sickle cell in Cameroon and the continent at large, Dr. Kifem said knowing your hemoglobin electrophoresis status is central in reversing the trend. If you know your genotype well in advance, you will make an informed decision on who to marry thereby avoid having children with sickle cell disease. This is the only way to limit the burden on families and communities, the medic emphasized.
It’s worth noting that over 140 people had their hemoglobin electrophoresis test done for free at BBHCD. The initiative was the brainchild of the BBHCD organized in partnership with the Ashu Egbe Foundation. The foundation is specialized in raising awareness on sickle in Cameroon.