West Buganda Diocese has made it a requirement for couples intending to marry in Church to be subjected to mandatory sickle cell tests.Sickle cell disease is a genetic condition due to a haemoglobin disorder and inheritance of mutant haemoglobin genes from both parents. The chronic and debilitating medical condition is caused by a defect in red blood cells.
Rev Canon Gaster Nsereko, the sub dean at St Paul’s Cathedral Kako, the seat of West Buganda Diocese, revealed that the diocese has only been requesting for HIV/Aids test results from couples intending to get married, which was an oversight.
“As a way of raising awareness, we have resolved that all couples intending to marry present sickle cell test results as they do for HIV,” Canon Nsereko told Daily Monitor.
Canon Nsereko said demanding sickle cell tests is driven by the desire to help nurture healthy families, prevent divorce, disease and death.
Globally medical experts advise that sickle cell patients should not marry a carrier of the sickle cell gene, because there is 50 per cent chance of a baby getting the blood disorder.
However, a sickle cell patient can marry an individual with no trait of the disease as their offspring will only be carriers of the sickle cell genes.
Ms Evelyn Mwesigwa, the executive director of Sickle Cell Network Uganda, welcomed the Church plan saying it would increase awareness and sensitisation about the sickle cell burden in Uganda.