Sickle cell anaemia patients decry neglect amid Covid-19 pandemic

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By Tony Wafula

Sickle cell anaemia patients in Bungoma County have raised a red flag blaming the ministry of health for neglecting them amid Covid-19 pandemic.

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that a child is born with. It’s passed down through a parent’s genes. Children with sickle cell anaemia make an abnormal type of hemoglobin.

This is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. With sickle cell anaemia, the body organs and tissues don’t get enough oxygen.

Joy Watitwa, 32, from Kanduyi in Bungoma County noted that she has battled sickle cell anaemia since she was born adding that she was diagnosed at the age of 8years.

Watitwa said that her journey in battling anaemia has been tough, appealing to parents with sickle cell anaemia children to give them special care.

“Children battling sickle cell anaemia should be given special care, access to medication and education,” she said.

Mrs. Watitwa said that she has battled stigmatization and bullying from fellow students all the way from Primary to college, she added that despite the challenges she managed to pass her exams well.

“My school life was not easy since I faced stigmatization from my fellow students who used to abandon me whenever I needed help, however, I managed to sail through and excelled in my studies up to the college level and graduated with a Diploma in Records management,” she said.

Watitwa pointed out that the cost of maintaining a sickle cell patient is very expensive as each tablet costs more than Ksh.40 and a person needs at least two tablets per day.

In her appeal, Watitwa asked the government through the ministry of health to consider sickle cell anaemia patients and include them on NHIF cover so that they are cushioned.

“I paid Ksh. 1.8M at Eldoret hospital where I was receiving treatment for sickle cell anaemia because the NHIF was not covering sickle cell patients,” she said.

She urged Bungoma county government through the ministry of health to set up a sickle cell center that will help in isolating patients with sickle cell especially during the Covid-19 periods, adding many sickle cell anaemia patients have lost life due to lack of proper healthcare.

“Recently sickle cell anaemia patient succumbed at Bungoma County referral hospital while waiting for medication after he contracted Covid-19,” she noted.

              

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