In a landmark initiative, the Ministry of Health in Kenya has officially launched the “Sickle Cell Diseases Afya Dhabiti Project.
This project in partnership with Novartis and other key stakeholders, signals a significant leap forward in the nation’s collective efforts to address the myriad challenges faced by individuals and families affected by sickle cell disease.
Launching the project on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Zeinab Gura, Deputy Director-General of Health at the State Department of Medical Services, emphasized that this project represents a crucial step forward in their collective mission to address the challenges faced by individuals and families affected by sickle cell disease in the country.
“Today, Kenya unites as a force for change, recognizing that the time for action is now. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment are fundamental pillars of effective sickle cell care,” she said.
Through investment in training, the project aspires to ensure that more individuals receive timely diagnoses and appropriate care.
Additionally, the project seeks to reduce the cost of Hydroxyurea, a vital medicine for sickle cell disease, thereby alleviating the financial burden faced by those battling this condition.
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that has long plagued the African continent, with a staggering 240,000 children born with the condition annually across Africa.
In Kenya alone, approximately 14,000 children are born with sickle cell disease each year. Alarmingly, without routine newborn screening and access to proper treatment, an estimated 50-90% of those born with the condition perish undiagnosed before reaching their fifth birthday in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This silent epidemic touches numerous regions within Kenya, with Western, Nyanza, and Coastal areas particularly burdened, affecting 17 counties.
Moreover, the phenomenon of migration and intermarriage has led to an increasing prevalence of the condition in other regions of the country.