Sickle cell anaemia is one of the leading causes of child mortality with many children in Uganda falling victims before their fifth birthday.
Over 25,000 children are born with the disease each year according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of health.
The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, who represented His Excellency the President at the opening of the 6th International Sickle Cell Conference at Hotel Africana in Kampala on 25th May 2016, rallied the medical fraternity and political leaders to join the fight against the disease.
“There is an urgent need to highlight the scale and seriousness of the problem and explain how to protect oneself against it and get treatment. If we screen new born babies and use comprehensive care, we can reduce sickle cell disease by 70%,” she said.
Hon. Kadaga said the burden of the disease could be considerably reduced with aggressive campaigns for preventive health care in all the communities.
She noted that many parents are not aware that their children are carrying the disease.
“Our people however humble their background should be taught the importance of basic hygiene, proper sanitation, good feeding, immunization and antenatal services for expecting mothers. Children with Sickle cell disease should use treated mosquito nests to avoid exposure to malaria,” the Speaker added.
Hon. Kadaga promised to rally parliamentarians to support an appeal to government to procure Sickle Cell screening machines for all hospitals to enable medical personnel detect it among new born babies.
The State Minister for Health Hon. Sarah Opendi reaffirmed the commitment by government to ensure that more attention is given to Sickle Cell anemia, being one of the neglected diseases.
She noted that the burden of disease caused by Sickle Cell anemia greatly affected the attainment of the millennium development targets on reducing child mortality.
Hon. Opendi appealed to district health facilities to include drugs for sickle cell anemia among their routine procurements.