By Tatenda Mujeyi
The World Sickle Cell Day was held in conjunction with the launch of Sickle Cell Anaemia Trust Zimbabwe (SCATZ) in Harare last night.
Sickle Cell disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders that turns red blood cells hard and C-Shaped like a Sickle, and is believed to be affecting between 90 000 to 100 000 in the USA, mainly blacks.
SCATZ foundation has created a platform for the development of awareness of the disease as it has been considered rare despite its prevalence.
“The disease is argued theoretically as rare but the majority of children born with sickle sickness are in Africa. It is genetic disorder affecting molecules transporting oxygen and is a multiple disorder disease. Zimbabwe has not researched the statistics of Sickle Cell prevalence. We regard this a crucial step towards improving knowledge on sickle cell disease,” Paediatrician and U Z Lecturer Dr Patience Kuona said at the event.
SCATZ is founded by a survivor of sickle sickness Molyn Chima a qualified nurse who inherited the disease and has lived through its agony facing discrimination and stigmatisation at instances.
“I was born on the 4th of April 1987, diagnosed of Sickle Sickness after several experiments SCATZ and this is a permanent condition. I was expelled from school for my condition,” SCARTZ Founder and Executive Director Molyn Chima said at the launch.
Government emphasised their prioritisation on responding to the outcry by establishing a strategy to meet the sickle cell disease.
“Specialist care requisites of sickle cell disease necessitates that my ministry shall facilitate the establishment of screening centres as well as purchase necessary equipment. We are also going to be establishing village and rural health care centres as presented to be affecting the rural population,” the Guest of Honour Hon Minister of Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo said at the event.
Efforts by other non-state actors to fund the improvement of sickle cell treatment have of late been hampered by the economic crunch.
“UZ has availed funding for the purchase of equipment to deal with sickle sickness but unfortunately we are still in a queue at the CBZ as they are yet to avail the required foreign currency,” Dr. Kuona said at the event.
World Sickle Cell Day is the United Nation’s recognised day to raise awareness of sickle cell and was adopted on the 22nd December 2008 at the United Nations General Assembly recognising sickle cell disease as one of the world’s foremost genetic diseases.
The event was attended by members of government and the corporate world including senior army ranking officials, NETONE, PSMAS, Hammer and Tongs among other industrial players.