Sickle cell test results now set to come out after five minutes

PEOPLE diagnosed for Sickle Cell Disease (SDC) will from now on know their status in just five minutes instead of a week, following the launch of

Speaking during the launching ceremony, the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla, said the move would scale up the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases, SCD included, that have been on an increase, especially in developing countries like Tanzania.

“The government, through my ministry, has put in place plans to overcome the situation having recognised the sensitivity of the matter,’’ he explained.Dr Kigwangalla said the plans included the National Strategic Plan for Non-Communicable Disease comprising of sickle cell awareness creation, sickle cell diagnostic services, newborn screening and its other related cases.

On his part, the sickle Cell Department Coordinator at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science (MUHAS), Dr Deogratias Soka, said the new test kit would ease testing and reduce the number of people who were supposed to travel to Muhimbili for the test.

“Normally, people had to come to Muhimbili for the test from all regions, a situation that discouraged others” he noted. Moreover, people had to dig deeper into their pockets to finance their stay in Dar es Salaam, sometimes for almost a week, before getting their results.

To end the sickle cell circle, President of the Association of Sickle Cell Patients in Tanzania, Ms Arafa Said, urged couples to use the new test for screening before getting married.

Research has shown that sickle cell traits are prevalent in 15 per cent of the Tanzanian population, which means, depending on the choice of spouse, the entire population (15 per cent) can have children with sickle cell disease.

“Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease from both father and mother; both parents must at least have the sickle cell trait for them to have a child with sickle cell disease and if couples will go for the screening earlier before they get married, we can end the sickle cell cycle,” she advised during an interview with the ‘Daily News’.

Available statistics show that globally, out of 312, 307 children born with SCD every year, 76 per cent of them are from Africa, equivalent to 237, 253 children every year. In Tanzania, between 8,000 and 11,000 children are born with sickle cell every year with the survival rate of 10 per cent, meaning 90 per cent of children born with SCD die every year.

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