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Experiences From An African Country. Ghana and other countries in West and Central Africa have the highest prevalence of SCD and related disorders in the world.
Lack of SCD Clinics in hospitals to provide specialist care for sickle cell patients. Lack of capacity building of Health Care Workers eg. Need for development of treatment protocols, guidelines and training modules for holistic management of the disease.
Lack of laboratory services to provide highly sensitive and specific diagnostic facilities at all regional hospitals and a basic package for district hospitals to facilitate prompt diagnosis and quality management.
It looks at the challenges across all aspects of the sickle cell condition; from pre-conception to living and caring for people with the sickle cell condition and their families.
The objectives were as follows: To collaborate with all stakeholders to create awareness of the SCD since it affects the whole community; To initiate pre-conception screening project for people in Ghana and other developing countries. To assist in the establishment of sickle cell clinics and support groups in the various hospitals and health centers.
The approach used was institution based formal health education. Training sessions were organized for coordinators and volunteers in each region. The approach used was community based health education. Mass media education and public events were also done, supported by the Ministries of Health and Education using publicity drive: Two coordinators were trained in each region, one from Ministry of Health and the other from Ministry of Education.
A room was rehabilitated for the Tamale Sickle Cell Clinic. In Bolgatanga and Wa, all rooms were ready and furnished by the Regional Hospitals. The Counseling Units started running before official opening of clinics which was done at the end of the project.
All official opening ceremonies were covered by press. This was a way of creating awareness of SCD. Advocacy groups made up of patients, parents and people with interest in SCD were established in all three northern regions.
We found in our survey the following; lack of knowledge, compounded by myths and superstitions in most localities but with knowledge on SCD, this got rid of all such concepts. Public transport was also used some times. Another challenge that came up was the lack of staff for the project, since some of the trained personnel for the project had to discontinue work in the north.
This was also solved by using volunteers and coordinators from the Regional Hospitals and Regional Health Directorate who were given some form of training in each region before work started.
With the availability of funds and similar efforts in other regions and adoption of recommendations, there is genuine prospect of greater countrywide change on the horizon.
People saw the need for screening to know their sickle cell status to make informed choices before having children. This is the only way out for developing countries.
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