Ghana records 15,000 sickle cell disease yearly; gov’t introduces game-changer

Dr. Bawumia attending the 60th Anniversary of the Baptist Medical Centre in his hometown of Nalerigu, Ghana on November 8, 2018.
Approximately 80% of individuals with sickle cell disease globally are born in sub-Saharan Africa.
More than half of affected individuals die before the age of five due to preventable complications.
In Ghana, it is estimated that 15,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease every year.

The government in collaboration with global medicines company Novartis has launched the first public-private partnership designed to ease the pain and improve the lives of people with sickle cell disease in Ghana.
The partnership, Vice President Bawumia said, is a “game changer and a breakthrough for sickle cell patients in Ghana. 
This game-changing initiative makes Ghana the first African country to commit to offering a high standard of care for its people with sickle cell disease.
The country, through the Partnership with Novartis, is set to establish eleven Centers of Excellence across Ghana for the treatment of sickle cell disease.
These centers, according to officials of the Ministry of Health, will raise the standard of care for people with sickle cell disease through new treatment guidelines.
 It will also assist efforts to expand Ghana’s Newborn Screening Programme for sickle cell disease, and help train healthcare professionals in modern management of the disease.
These centers will also take part in research into new treatments for sickle cell disease.
Under the partnership, NOVARTIS will provide through the Ministry of Health the critical drug, Hydroxyurea, already approved by the Food and Drugs Authority, to sickle cell patients.
The drug will initially be provided free of charge to patients and will subsequently be subsidized and provided by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Speaking at the launch, Vice President Bawumia bemoaned the pain and suffering patients with sickle cell disease go through, and expressed his delight at the steps being taken to alleviate this pain.
“Like many of our people, the President and I share great concern about sickle cell disease.
“We share the concern of the burden that the disease places on their health and lives of those who live with it,” he said
“The President and I are happy to see the concerted efforts that are being made to ease the pain and improve the lives of people with the disease in our country.
“I am delighted to be here today to bear witness to those efforts and to support the promise of better days for our people who live with this difficult disease,” he stressed.

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