Lusaka – The Zambian Health Minister, Sylvia Masebo, has revealed that 8,000 babies under the age of three months have been screened for sickle cell disease following the introduction of newborn screening services in selected hospitals in Lusaka and Copperbelt Provinces. Speaking during the 2023 World Sickle Cell Day in Lusaka, Minister Masebo emphasized the ministry’s commitment to expanding screening services across all provinces.
Sickle cell disease, a genetic condition affecting the shape and function of red blood cells, poses significant health challenges worldwide. It is most prevalent in regions with a high incidence of malaria, including sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of awareness and limited access to healthcare often contribute to delayed diagnosis and inadequate management.
World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, observed annually on June 19th, serves as a platform to increase public knowledge and understanding of sickle cell disease and its impact on patients, families, and communities. The day also aims to mobilize resources, advocate for policies supporting healthcare infrastructure, research funding, and equitable access to treatment and support services.
Significant advancements have been made in the treatment and understanding of sickle cell disease, improving the quality of life for many patients. Hydroxyurea therapy, transfusion therapy, and bone marrow transplantation are among the treatment options available. However, support beyond medical care is crucial, including psychosocial assistance, pain management, and educational resources for patients and their families.
World Sickle Cell Awareness Day calls upon governments, healthcare providers, researchers, and communities to collaborate in enhancing the lives of individuals affected by sickle cell disease. By raising awareness, promoting early detection, supporting research, and ensuring equal access to care, strides can be made toward a future where those living with sickle cell disease can lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.