Kenya: Sickle Cell Disease Patients At Higher Risk of Severe COVID-19

World Sickle Cell Day

Nairobi — Patients with sickle-cell disease (SCD) face a higher risk of contracting and suffering severe COVID-19 due to their low immunity resulting from the blood disorder, the health ministry warned on Thursday .

Speaking during the daily briefing on the status of the pandemic in the country, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman urged people living with the disease to strictly observe the precautionary measures to avoid contracting the coronavirus and always consult healthcare providers should they experience COVID-19 symptoms.

SCD is a genetic disease characterized by a change in the shape of a red blood cell, from a smooth circular shape, to a crescent shape, which can result in the blockage of small blood vessels.

"Patients with this disease often experience chronic pain, risk of recurrent infections and other serious complications. They are at higher risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and more likely to get severe illness if they get infected, this is due to their impaired immunity resulting from blood disorder," Aman said.

The CAS further urged caregivers to stock a minimum of month-long medical supplies for the sickle cell patients.

His remarks coincided with the World Sickle Cell Diseases Day which is commemorated on June 19 every year.

Aman said that Kenya represents 6,000 of the 24,000 children born in Africa with the disease with up to 80 per cent of the children dying before their fifth birthday.

"The recurrent pain and complications caused by the disease can interfere with many aspects of the patient's life including education, employment and psycho social development," the Health CAS added.

He, however noted that the health ministry tin collaboration with stakeholders in the health sector, had developed guidelines for managing the disease. The protocols will be rolled out soon.

"This will help to improve the quality of care offered at our health facilities and community levels," Aman said while updating the nation on new COVID-19 infections.

As of June 19, the number of coronavirus infections had risen to 4,374. A total of 1550 recoveries and 119 deaths have been reported since March.

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