Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells; people with the disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin.
The national celebrations for World Sickle Cell Day will take place in Bundibugyo district. World Sickle Cell day is celebrated worldwide on June 19th every year to create more awareness about the disease.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells; people with the disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels.
During the celebrations, there will be several activities including screening and testing couples, blood donation and sensitizing the masses about the disease.
Speaking during a press briefing at Media Centre on Friday, Dr. Anthony Mbonye, the acting director, general health services, Ministry said this year, the ministry decided to put the celebrations in Bundibugyo because the district is one the with the highest prevalence of sickle cell trait.
"Bundibugyo has prevalence of 21.7% of trait and 1.9% of the disease compared to the national trait average of 13.3%, and disease burden of 0.73%," says Mbonye.He however explains that the distribution is not uniform across the country. In some high burden districts like Gulu, Lira, Kotido, Jinja, and Kampala among others, the prevalence rate of the trait is above 20% and that of the disease above 1.5%. .
However, all districts around Bundibugyo apart from Ntoroko with a trait prevalence of 15%, the rest of the districts around it have a prevalence trait of 10%.
Charles Kiyaga, National Sickle Program Coordinator Ministry of Health says the most affected population in Bundibugyo are the Bamba tribe with the prevalence trait at 45%.
He attributes the increase in the burden in this district especially the Bamba as a result of increased intermarriages among carriers without the knowledge, lack of premarital sickle cell testing and counseling.
Mbonye said to reduce the burden of the disease, it is crucial to put emphasis on premarital counseling and testing to discourage couples with the trait from marrying each other and screening of new born babies and those found with the disease are immediately put on treatment.