MP advocates increased awareness of sickle cell

Ms Francisca Oteng Mensah, the Member of Parliament for Kwabre East, is advocating a greater awareness creation and increased knowledge about sickle cell anaemia to control the disease.

Sickle cell is a genetic condition which affects the red blood cells and causes it to break down with other accompanying diseases which include the damage of lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, eyes amongst others.

According to the 23-year old lawmaker, 18,000 children are born in Ghana annually with the condition, of which 50 per cent die before age five, a statistic she said was alarming.

“We need all hands on deck as Ghanaians to fight against the sickle cell disease. I am calling on the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders such as sickle cell foundation of Ghana, to regularly visit schools, churches, mosques, work places, football clubs and other associations to create awareness and educate people about the disease,” she advocated.

Ms Mensah was speaking in an interview with The Ghanaian Times in Parliament on Tuesday as the world marked the World Sickle Cell Day last Monday.

The day is set aside to help increase public awareness on sickle cell disease and the struggles carriers and their families go through.

The interview followed a statement she made on the floor of Parliament where she appealed to government to provide more funds to enhance research and development.

Research, the first time lawmaker said, would help health personnel to tackle the disease hands-on for better treatment and cure as well as inform policy direction and information dissemination on the disease.

As part of her suggestions to reduce the startling figures, the legislator said it was time the test for sickle cell anaemia was prioritised during courtship and marriage.

The MP, who is a member of a foundation creating awareness on the disease, said on several occasions when they visited religious organisations to preach the sickle cell message, the health requirements for marriage excluded testing for sickle cell, a situation she said needed to be addressed.

“I call on all religious bodies that if they are not testing for sickle cell before their members got married, it is high time they did so to reduce the alarming figures,” Ms Mensah stated.

She said apart from championing the course of citizens, Parliament could pass a legislation which would limit sickle cell carriers from getting married to fellow sickle cell carriers.

By Julius Yao Petetsi and Priscilla Mawuena Adjeidu

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