In a groundbreaking move, the Ministry of Health has officially introduced the “Sickle Cell Diseases Afya Dhabiti Project.”
This collaborative project, in partnership with Novartis and various essential stakeholders, marks a substantial advancement in the country’s collective effort to transform sickle cell care in Kenya.
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.
By investing in training, the project aims to expand access to timely diagnoses and proper care for a greater number of individuals.
Furthermore, the project seeks to lower the cost of Hydroxyurea, an essential medication for sickle cell disease, thereby easing the financial strain on patients battling sickle cell.
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that has persistently affected the African continent, with a staggering 240,000 children being born with the condition each year across Africa.
In Kenya alone, approximately 14,000 children are born with sickle cell disease annually. Worryingly, in the absence of routine newborn screening and access to appropriate treatment, an estimated 50-90% of those born with the condition tragically pass away undiagnosed before reaching their fifth birthday in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This hidden epidemic impacts multiple regions within Kenya, with the Western, Nyanza, and Coastal areas bearing a particularly heavy burden, encompassing 17 counties.
Furthermore, the trend of migration and intermarriage has resulted in a rising prevalence of the condition in other parts of the country.