Ghana is a West African country located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean. It is surrounded by Burkina Faso, Togo and Ivory Coast. Approximately 30 million people live in Ghana. Ghanaians speak close to eighty different languages, yet eleven regional languages are recognized aside the official language English.
Ghana is recognized as one of the highest prevalence of SCD in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately, 2% of all Ghanaian new-borns have SCD with 15,000 annual births. For the management of SCD, Ghana has about 16 specialized sickle cell clinics which are mainly concentrated in the south. The largest adult sickle cell clinic in the country, Ghana Institute of Clinic Genetics, is located at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, with approximately 26,000 adolescents and adults population. It serves majority of the adult sickle cell patients in the country.The advances in management of SCD have improved the survival of sickle cell patients in Ghana.
SCD is a significant public health burden, however the care and management of SCD is yet to be prioritized in Ghana. Most of the advancement in SCD treatment is not accessible.Some sickle cell children are not diagnosed until adulthood because of lack of nation-wide new-born screening. Stem cell transplantation, the cure for SCD, is not available to majority of the population and management of SCD complications are the only alternative treatment option in Ghana. Hydroxyurea, a well-known drug for the effective management of SCD, accessibility has been improved currently with the help of Novartis. Novartis has provided a one year free hydroxyurea to sickle cell patients in Ghana. Accordingly, government of Ghana is required to continue the accessibility of hydroxurea to patients by covering the cost through the National Health Insurance Scheme which is yet to be implemented.
Adult Sickle Cell Clinic, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (2019, December). Sickle Cell Clinic Records
Asare, E.V., Wilson, I., Kuma, A.A.B.A., Dei-Adomakoh, Y.,Sey, F., &Olayemi, E. (2018). Burden of Sickle Cell Disease in Ghana: The Korle-Bu Experience. Advances in Hematology, 5.
Ohene-Frempong, K., Oduro, J., Tetteh, H., Nkrumah, F. (2008). Screening newborns for sickle cell disease in Ghana.Pediatrics, 121(2), S120-S121.
Sickle Cell Disease in Ghana
Diaba Miriam Yayra, Ghana
My name is Diaba Miriam Yayra. I am 23 years and I live in Dodowa in Ghana. I remember that every time I felt pain, it was attributed to the excess playing in school and treated with herbal medicines. But the pain just kept coming back and getting worse every day. I finally received my Sickle Cell diagnosis when I was 4 years old. That was when I started getting treatment for it. I always felt a sharp pain in my bone up to the marrow.
Sickle Cell is a very debilitating disease. Living with sickle cell is a world on its own and most people won’t understand especially the pain we go through during crisis. Those pain crises are unpredictable. Some of the challenges are stigmatisation from people concerning health which makes us feel very bad and also there’s is the drawing back of people when they realise we are sickle cell patients. Sickle cell patients encounters some challenges in their social lives.
Sometimes being loved is difficult… Sickle Cell hurts. It comes with rejection.
As far as I can remember, I always wanted to a neurosurgeon. But the reality of the condition is that is you cannot plan your life the way you want. I missed a lot of school as a result of me being always sick. It seems as if time runs against you. I guess at some point, I needed more encouragement to push more. Nevertheless, I decide to become a nurse. Med school seems out of reach for me!
However I am lucky that I have a very supportive family. I always have someone to help with the tasks I cannot do. My family gives me support and help me embark on difficult task.
Sickle Cell is not a very deadly disease nowadays. You can live with it. But we need more research to be done. I felt I should share my story to be among those who raise awareness about Sickle Cell Disease to let people know what life is with this disease.