‘Involve health experts in marriage counselling’

Dr. Ansong

Dr. Ansong

Dr. Joseph Yeboah Ansong, a medical practitioner at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital (ENRH) at Sekondi in the Western Region, has urged churches to involve health or medical professionals in the counselling of prospective married couples.

He said medical professionals could assist prospective married couples to choose the right partners through laboratory tests.

Dr. Ansong, who gave the advice in an interview with The Ghanaian Times in Sekondi, said sickle cell was hereditary or a genetic disease that was transferred from parents to children, and explained that sickle cell was not an infectious disease.

He said that sickle cell was mainly found in people of ‘black descent’ like the Kerela in India, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, parts of South America, people along the Mediterranean and Africa.

He said there were four types of the sickle cell diseases – SS, SC, beta thalassemia 4 and beta thalassemia 0, adding “those with AC or AS are not sickle cell patients, but carriers of the cells.”

Dr. Ansong appealed to churches to send couple who intended to marry for professional counselling and proper tests to determine their sickle cell status to prevent misery after marriage.

He said dehydration contributed to more risks in sickle cell patients, and advised such patients to drink more water and not only when they were thirty adding is “water life”.

Dr. Ansong explained that the intake of water would increase the volume of blood for the cells to move freely without any obstructions.

He said “cold weather is a major blow to sickle cell patients, because the blood vessels shrink and so blood movement is impeded, causing crisis, so they need to put on warm clothing to keep them warm always.”

Dr. Ansong said the use of ‘too heavy warm clothing’ could also cause problems because one might sweat and in losing more water, it would make the blood vessels shrink and crisis would set in.”

He said the normal lifespan of any red blood cell was 120 days or three months, but the sickle cell average lifespan was 20 to 30 days for these cells to break down, and this could cause painful crisis.

Dr. Ansong said because of frequent break down of the cells, there could be splenic sequestration (pulling apart) and this could cause much stress and enlarge the spleen.

He disclosed that the complications  sickle cell patients faced included anaemia, pains in the joints and infection of the bones.

Dr. Ansong advised sickle cell patients to stay in well ventilated rooms, never to over cover themselves, take in more fluid and sleep under treated bed nets, to avoid mosquito bites so as not to get malaria.

From Peter Gbambila, Sekondi

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