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Mombasa County marks world sickle cell awareness day

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[Mombasa County Health department officials join locals to mark the Wolrd Sickle Cell awareness day at Portreitz, Mombasa. Photo/Haramo Ali]

Mombasa County government on Tuesday joined other health stake holders in marking the world sickle cell day at Portreitz in Changamwe.

The day is held on the 19th of June annually to increase public knowledge and awareness about Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and the struggles the affected and their families go through.

SCD affects millions of people around the world both adults and children. It is a potentially fatal disease and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in Africa.

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited form of anaemia, a condition in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body, normally, red blood cells are flexible and round, moving easily through blood vessels.

In sickle cell anaemia, the red blood cells become rigid and sticky and are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. The irregularly shaped cells can get stuck in small blood vessels which slow or block blood flow and oxygen to other parts of the body.

Periodic episode of pain is a major symptom of sickle cell anaemia. Pain develops when sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to the chest, abdomen and joints. The Pain also occurs in bones.

Sickle cells can damage an organ that fights infection (spleen), leaving a person more vulnerable to infections. Doctors commonly give infants and children with sickle cell anaemia vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent potentially life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia.