At the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, Ghana, a medical team reviews a sickle cell disease patient’s records. The hospital's Pediatric Sickle Cell Clinic currently provides care to about 1,000 children. For those living with sickle cell disease, or SCD, recurring pain episodes — caused by the clogging of blood vessels by misshapen red blood cells — require frequent hospital visits and treatment.
Every year, approximately 15,000 babies in Ghana are born with SCD. But treatment exists and early diagnosis through newborn screening could significantly reduce preventable deaths.
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Among the team is professor Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, president at the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana and program coordinator at the National Newborn Screening Program for Sickle Cell Disease. Known to his peers as "professor Kof," he has dedicated his medical career to improving the lives of SCD patients. In many countries across Africa, a lot of children with SCD are left undiagnosed and are never treated for the disease, which is why it is so important to diagnose the disease before symptoms begin, Ohene-Frempong said.
The foundation is one stakeholder behind a new partnership aimed at preventing SCD child deaths in Ghana through the expansion of universal newborn screening and improved treatment. Ohene-Frempong hopes the partnership will “bring awareness to sickle cell disease, especially in Africa where it's most prevalent and where governments have ignored the disease for a long time, while many people see that it is worth fighting for.”
Continue reading this visual story to learn more about Ghana’s approach to ensuring quality of care to patients with SCD.