Sorcery Beliefs Impede Management of Sickle Cell Disease

1085 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng says the ministry is struggling to sensitize communities on the need for premarital counseling for couples and neonatal screening for Sickle Cell traits, because many still disregard the fact that Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder passed by genes from parents to their children.

The misconception that Sickle Cell Disease is a result of witchcraft is a big hurdle in government efforts to stop it, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng has said.

She says the ministry is struggling to sensitize communities on the need for premarital counseling for couples and neonatal screening for Sickle Cell traits, because many still disregard the fact that Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder passed by genes from parents to their children.

Medical records indicate that people who have sickle cell disease inherit two abnormal genes, one from each parent mutating into a blood disorder that affects the capacity of the red blood cells to carry oxygen to all the tissues of the body.

People with Sickle Cell Disease suffer complications like severe anaemia, life threatening bacterial and malarial infection, recurrent body and bone pains and generalized body failure among others.  It is estimated that 20,000-25,000 babies are born annually with sickle cell disease in Uganda.

The disease is more common in the Mid North, Buliisa and Bundibugyo districts where its prevalence stands at 20 percent, far above the national average of 0.73 percent. But people in these communities believe their children were cursed and have a conviction that children suffering with Sickle Cell Disease cannot live to adulthood.

Minister Jane Ruth Aceng is optimistic that with premarital counseling and neonatal screening, Sickle Cell Disease can be reduced in Uganda. She says that although not curable, the disease is preventable and more efforts need to be put on preventive measures and convincing parents that children born with Sickle Cell Disease are not cursed.

She says that districts have been advised to provide information on the importance of early screening, management and care for children living with Sickle Cell Disease. She was presenting a ministerial statement on the burden of Sickle Cell Disease in Uganda

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.