As part of activities marking the Sickle Cell Awareness and Education Campaign organised by UHAS, faculty from Fred N. Binka School of Public Health and the School of Medicine at UHAS, teamed up with staff of the Volta Regional Hospital, Hohoe, to screen more than 5,000 primary and junior high school students for the disease, at various locations in Hohoe Municipality from August 21st to 25th.
According to Dr. Mary Akua Ampomah, Lecturer and Advocacy and Engagement Lead at Binka School, statistics show that three out of every ten persons in Ghana are carriers of sickle cell disease, with 2% of newborns developing sickle cell anaemia each year; therefore, everyone must undergo testing to determine their genotype or status for sickle cell disease in order to limit the disease’s prevalence.
She said, genotype screening is crucial for the public as it will enable those people to make informed choices about their partners, relationships and marriages. Knowing one’s status, she added, could help people avoid having children with sickle cell disease and dispel the myth that the disease is brought on by ancestral curses or demons, as some cultures believe.
Dr. Ampomah also recommended that different Sickle Cell support organizations should be given the authority to promote newborn screening across the country, and that Sickle Cell Associations should also step up their campaigning to ensure that problems with newborn screening are resolved.
Students who benefitted from the free exercise expressed their joy and gratitude for being included, knowing that Sickle Cell screening comes at a cost in health facilities across the country.