By Jeremiah Ongili and Beryl Okendo
The multi-sectoral approach dubbed ‘Zero sickle cell’ has joined forces to create awareness of sickle cell disease this September.
The stakeholders include Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH), Ramogi Tv, Kisumu regional bank, Kenya red cross, Tumaini sickle cell organization, West Kenya sickle cell support group, and children sickle cell foundation.
The entity will do beyond creating awareness this month to continue working towards the complete eradication of the sickle cell disease, seeking solutions to help sickle cell victims become survivors.
The team is planning community out reached, blood drive campaigns that will be held in different places and dates throughout September.
On 11th September, the blood drive campaign will be at Kibuye market, on Saturday 17TH September 2022, the blood drive campaign will be held at Ahero market, Tuesday 20th September 2022 the campaign that will be integrated with sensitization on sickle cell disease will be at Uzima college, and Mambo Leo market.
On 21st September 2022, the campaign will be held at Maseno university, on 22nd September 2022 will be the Katitu market, while Sunday 25th the campaign will be at the Citam Church Kisumu. The campaigns will close on the 30th Friday at Jamia mosque, Garissa lodge in Kisumu
The team is deliberating on ways through which the community will be sensitized and educated about sickle cell and encouraging them to go for blood screening so that they can know their status.
Those found with sickle cell traits will be counseled to plan for the future, especially concerning the spouses, they settled down with in marriage. Blood drives are being conducted to realize an adequate supply of blood for people living with sickle cell.
Sickle cell disorder causes the red blood cells to become misshapen and break down. With sickle cell, the cells are in sickle shape and thus die early leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells. Treatments for this disease include medication, blood transfusions, and rarely a bone-marrow transplant.
Dr. Maurine Muchela who coordinates this team says the comprehensive care model for sickle cell patients comprises, newborn screening, immunization practice, management of acute complications, prophylactic penicillin, health education to families, nutrition support, psychosocial support, malaria prevention, and hydroxyurea use. The model is based on the interaction of medical and non-medical services with the affected persons.
DR. George Rae, the CEO of JOOTRH who is instrumental in bringing the team together says they are considering partnering with NHIF seeking specific packages to benefit people living with sickle cell. “We will be negotiating for cheaper treatment to ensure that the sickle cell patients receive the required treatments as well as sensitize our communities about sickle cell and how it can be managed.” He added.
The blood drives are supported by the Kenya Red cross. The blood drive is geared to ensure that sickle cell patient gets the rightful amount of blood they require. The blood drives are meant to request the support of the communities towards donating blood for sickle cell patients.
Meanwhile, JOOTRH has been doing a screening for newborns below 6 weeks to establish if they have sickle cell traits in the blood. The facility urges members of the communities to bring their children for newborn screening.