By Adama Tine
The Director of Health Promotion and Education of the Ministry of Health, Modou Njai has assured Sickle Cell patients in the Gambia of the ministry’s solid support.
Njai was speaking over the weekend while representing his minister during the commemoration of this year’s International Sickle Cell Disease Day held at GTBank Head Office along Kairaba Avenue.
The day brought together members of the Gambia Sickle Cell Association (GSDA), representatives of the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders.
Addressing the gathering, Njai said individuals and communities need to be empowered with the requisite knowledge and skills to enable them to make positive discussions on their own health. He further emphasized what needs to be done on educating medical professionals, caregivers, and associated personnel about prevention, management, surveillance, research, and resources in order to minimize the complications associated with sickle cell disease.
Njai stated that the commemoration is aimed at raising public awareness on sickle cell disorders, adding that the World Sickle Cell Day aims to reduce stigma or discrimination faced by Sickle Cell Disease patients, who often end up feeling isolated and misunderstood, largely due to cultural barriers.
He said it is part of a Non-Commack Diseases (NCDs) which accounts for 34% of the burden of sickle cell in the Gambia and indirectly affects every Gambian on sickle cell merge and their complications place an unnecessarily high burden on communicable disease family which in the Gambia directly merges resources of the individual and the health sector.
Njai further said that the day is also commemorated to call on the public to reflect on the huge health and socio-economic burden on people living with Sickle Cell Disease but also how to fight against the disease.
“Concerted action is required from across different sectors in government as well as private sector institutions, civil society, individuals, communities and organizations including the United Nations to tackle the burden of sickle cell. We therefore need the whole system of government and society approaches to reduce the burden of Sickle Cell Disease,” he pointed out.
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. Normally, the flexible, round red blood cells move easily through blood vessels.
Sickle cell disease is caused by inheriting the sickle cell gene. It is not caused by anything the parents did before or during the pregnancy and does not transmit from one person to another.