Over the past few years, many advances have been made in the fight against sickle cell disease. However, the Katikkiro of Buganda has highlighted the challenges associated with the disease, calling for more efforts to promote awareness.
The Katikkiro, Charles Peter Mayiga, explained that sickle cell disease is a major health problem because it is widespread in the country where the abnormal gene has a prevalence rate of between 2% and 30%, which explains the high mortality and morbidity due to the disease.
“We must increase the awareness for the sickle cell disease to reduce the burden across the country,” he said.
Mayiga made the remarks while unveiling the committees that will organise the 2019 Kabaka birthday celebrations and Kabaka Birthday Run at Bulange–Mengo on Monday.
Stressing the urgent need to tackle the disease, Mayiga called upon the public to continue making efforts to fight against blood diseases in the country.
“We intend to continue driving awareness about the sickle cell disease as well as supplement government efforts in the fight through the provision of the sickle cell testing kits,” he added.
Last year, Buganda and its partners donated over 140,000 sickle cell testing kits to Uganda National Health Laboratory Services, procured from the proceeds of the annual run.
Mayiga said that life has no meaning unless one attaches value to it.
“We give special value to the birthday of the Kabaka because he is the custodian of our values and beliefs. The birthday run, therefore, is a celebration of identity, history and a way of life,” Mayiga said.
The chairperson Kabaka Birthday Run organising committee, Robert Kabushenga, said the sickle cell burden was real and joint efforts were needed to combat the disease.
“We need more funding and also create awareness to combat such deadly illnesses like sickle cells,” Kabushenga urged.
Kabushenga, also the CEO of Vision Group, reported that this year, the event is expected to attract on 60,000 participants as more people both local and international are excited to partake.
“Many counties in Buganda and the Kabaka’s subjects globally have expressed the need to buy kits and also organise the same event. We pray that with the partners' support, the event can extend to other parts of the country,” he said.
The proceedings from the run will be used to support increased public awareness about sickle cell disease and procure medical kits used in testing of the diseases in the country.
The chairman of the Kabaka’s birthday celebrations committee, David Mpanga, lauded all of Buganda's partners for taking a keen interest in the development of the kingdom.
“With poor health, there is not much that one can do. We are working tirelessly with committed partners such as Airtel Uganda and other partners to ensure that we improve persistent and yet avoidable health problems, then we can focus on other community development issues,” he noted.
The 2019 Kabaka Run will be held on April 7, 2019, under the theme Buganda’s Hope for the Future Lies in Well-Brought Children Who Are Health and God-Fearing.
The 5km, 10km and 2km race is among the events that lead the Kabaka’s 64th birthday celebrations that will take place at Ndejje SS in Luwero district on April 13.
The Kabaka Birthday Run is supported by Vision Group, Airtel, Post Bank, and Rwenzori Water among others.