The Ghana Sickle Cell Foundation has called on people living with the disease to strictly adhere to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) safety protocols.
According to the foundation, persons living with the sickle cell disease have a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 due to the associated characteristics of the two diseases.
Participating in a virtual programme to mark the World Sickle Cell Day online, Professor Isaac Odame of the Alexandra Yeo Chair in Haematology at the University of Toronto, Canada said the symptoms of COVID-19 and those of SCD were similar, putting sickle cell patients at high risk of contracting the COVID-19.
"The symptoms of COVID-19 and those of SCD are not very different; they include fever, chest pains, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia (acute chest syndrome in SCD), end organ damage and kidney failure," he stated.
He further stated that, "persons living with SCD are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19," hence, advised "for serious adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures."
In his keynote address, MBE, Consultant Psychologist at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust Haematology and Sickle Cell Centre, Central Middlesex Hospital, Dr Kofi Anie, explained that "SCD causes much distress to patients and their families and poses significant psychosocial problems."
He also bemoaned the stigmatisation of persons living with the sickle cell disease, saying it was worrying, and cautioned such persons to desist from such behaviour.
According to Dr Anie, "stigma may only cause loneliness, worry, and guilt; it makes people feel devalued, shunned, embarrassed and isolated," he said.
On his part, the President of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana, Professor Kwaku Ohene-Frempong noted that, the Ghana-Novartis Public-Private Partnership in Sickle Cell Disease were providing penicillin to children to protect them from infections that may lead to death.
He further said Novartis had delivered more than 6,000,000 capsules of hydroxyurea to Ghana and provided the foundation with support to supervise the training of health workers on the use of the medicine.
The foundation has indicated that, it has been estimated that more than 300,000,000 individuals worldwide have sickle cell trait (AS).