Uganda’s Ministry of Health has embarked on a comprehensive program aimed at reducing the burden of the sickle cell disease in the country.
While presenting a statement before parliament on the burden of the disease in the country, Minister Dr.Jane Ruth Aceng said the program will involve testing of new born babies and all children below 2 years in the 14 districts with the highest sickle cell disease and trait of Kampala,Gulu, Lira, Jinja, Tororo, Luweero, Wakiso, Apac, Iganga, Mayuge, Buikwe, Oyam, Masaka and Masindi.
“Sickle cell contributes 15% percent of the under mortality. Under mortality stands at 64/1000 live births, which the infant mortality rate stands at 43/1000 live births,” said Aceng.
According to the Uganda Demographic and Health survey (UDHS), 2016, the sickle cell disease prevalence stands at 0.73 while the trait prevalence stands at 13.3% and it is estimated that 25,000 babies are born annually with the disease with 80 percent dying before their 5thbirthday.
Aceng said the program will also involve creating awareness among communities about the incurable but preventable disease because some think it is as a result of witchcraft.
Aceng said the ministry had already made strategic participants with cultural, religious, and political leaders so sensitize the communities and create awareness.
She cited Buganda Kingdom which accepted to have sickle cell as the theme for the Kabaka birthday run for the next 3 years.
“Sickle cell being a genetic disease is not curable but preventable. However, there is lot of ignorance with many people believing it is due to witchcraft or curse,”Aceng said.