80% of the 25,000 babies born with sickle cell in Uganda die before their 5th birthday

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Uganda will join the rest of the world to commemorate World Sickle Cell Day on Monday 19th June 2017, under the theme; ‘‘Break the silence’’.
The event to be held in Kamuli will be graced by the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who is also the National Sickle Cell Chairperson.
Kamuli District was selected as the commemoration venue based on the fact that Busoga region emerged as one of the districts with the highest Sickle Cell Disease burden in Uganda during the recent National Sickle Cell Survey.



Sickle Cell disease is a genetic disorder affecting red blood cells making them unbale efficiently carry oxygen around the body cells. This abnormality is inherited from both parents is both the abnormal genes as carriers or sicklers
People with sickle cell diseases usually suffer recurrent bacterial and Malaria infections, body and bone pains and many other life-threatening complications



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Due to its high prevalence and devasting effects, the United Nations World Health Organisation and African Union have recently declared this disease a major public health problem contributing substantially to under-five childhood mortality especially in sub-Saharan Africa.



The ministry of health conducted a nationwide sickle cell survey in 2014 and this showed a significantly high burden of sickle Cell disease and trait in Uganda. The national Sickle cell trait prevalence currently stands at 13.3 percent while disease prevalence stands at 0.73 percent.
However, the distribution is not uniform across the country. Northern Uganda [ Acholi and Lango] , East Central [ Busoga, Bugweri, Busamya, Budama and Part of Teso] and Bulisa and Bundibugyo have a trait prevalence of more than 20 percent and disease of more than 1 percent. 49 out of the 112 districts have a trait prevalence of more than 15 percent.



Fourteen districts out of these contribute to 47% of the national disease burden and these are Kampala, Gulu, Lira, Jinja, Tororo, Luweero,Wakiso, Apac, Iganga, Mayuge, Buikwe, Oyam, Masaka, and Masindi. It is estimated that every year, up to 25,000 babies are born with sick cell disease in Uganda with 80 percent dying before their 5th birthday.



It is therefore against this background that the ministry of Health has embarked on the comprehensive program aiming at reducing the burden of sickle cell disease
Part of this program is the New-born sickle cell screening (NBS), which involves testing of new-born babies and all children below 2 years from high prevalence areas for sickle cell disease and trait.



TO achieve this, a modern standardized National Sickle Cell reference laboratories with a capacity to run 8,000 samples per week.Since April 2015, over 100,000 babies have been tested and over 20 sickle cell clinics have been set up on 20 high burden districts.

READ: How a Sickle Cell Whatsapp group is changing lives

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