The Sickle Cell Association of The Gambia in their quest to educate the public about sickle cell disease on Friday, June 4th organized a symposium at The Gambia College, in Brikama.
Speaking at the symposium, Ebrima Colley, coordinator of the Sickle Cell Association, revealed that the association was formed in August 2007 by two UTG students, who thought of the need for awareness creation on the sickle cell disease within the Gambian community. Colley went on to reveal that the organization was chartered on October 13th, 2007 and in January 2008 with four primary objectives; such as testing and screening, case management, genetic counseling and public outreach and education. He stated that they have strong partnerships with national and international bodies with the support of whom they organise stress and pain management seminars, community services referrals, sickle cell education, tutorial and sensitization.
Dr. Abdoulie S. Secka from the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH), said the sickle cell disease is a hereditary blood disorder that affects people in ways that can be felt and seen; such as causing pain and swelling. He said it can also affect people in less obvious ways such as slowing physical development, damage to internal organs like the liver, kidneys, and spleen. The disease, he added, causes stroke, eyesight problems, priapism, blindness and premature death among many others.
Dr Secka went on to explain that the normal hemoglobin is AA and went further to explain more about sickle cell. He noted that the fragility of sickle cell results in short life span, "since the lack of Oxygen causes a number of things to happen in the body as one cell may die and internal organs might fail to function properly".
He concluded by highlighting the several types of sickle cell disease, the most common of which, he indicated, are: The sickle cell anemia (SS), sickle-hemoglobin C Disease (SC), sickle beta-plus thalassemia and sickle beta-zero thalassemia. He however pointed out that there is no known cure yet except for the bone marrow transplant. Andrew Sambou, coordinator of the Sickle Cell Association of The Gambia chapter delivered the vote of thanks.