Sickle-Cell Anaemia

What’s all the fuss about?

According to The World Health Organisation (WHO), each year about:


infants are born with major haemoglobin disorders


Cases of sickle-cell anaemia in Africa


% of all children are born with the condition in some areas of sub-Saharan Africa

Globally, there are more carriers (i.e. healthy people who have inherited only one mutant gene from one parent) of thalassaemia than of sickle-cell anaemia, but the high frequency of the sickle-cell gene in certain areas leads to a high rate of affected newborns. Sickle-cell anaemia is particularly common among people whose ancestors come from sub-Saharan Africa, India, Saudi Arabia and Mediterranean countries. Migration raised the frequency of the gene in the American continent. (WHO, 2006)


In most countries where sickle-cell anaemia is a major public health concern, its management has remained inadequate, national control programmes do not exist, the basic facilities to manage the patients are usually absent, systematic screening is not a common practice and the diagnosis is usually made when a patient presents with a severe complication. Simple, cheap and very cost-effective procedures such as the use of penicillin to prevent infections are not widely available in many countries. The most important challenge is, thus, to improve the prospects for the patients with sickle-cell anaemia in developing countries like Sierra Leone by providing support to their carers.

  • SCA subjects reside in Africa

  • survival rate of SCA babies in rural areas by age five

  • Infant mortality

  • Prevalence of SCA

About 70% of all sickle cell anaemia (SCA) subjects reside in Africa, estimated at over 12 million. The prevalence of SCA is estimated at over 2% while infant mortality is about 8% and the survival rate of SCA babies in rural areas by age five is about 20%. These statistics indicate that SCA is probably the most neglected (and sometimes forgotten by health authorities) serious public health disorder with serious mortality and morbidity rates in Africa (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, March 2008). Despite this, it has not been given the attention it requires in Sierra Leone.


  1. Drink Water
  2. Eat well/ Vegetables
  3. Rest
  4. Do not drink cold water
  5. Do not bathe with cold water
  6. Do not play in the rain
  7. Take medicines as prescribed
  8. Gentle exercise
  9. Treat every cold immediately
  10. Dress appropriately


All of the major symptoms of sickle cell disease are the direct result of the abnormal shaped, sickle, red blood cells blocking the flow of blood. The organs and tissues are damaged by lack of oxygen.


The major symptoms of sickle cell disease are variable but can include:

  1. Fatigue and Anaemia
  2. Pain Episodes
  3. Swelling of hands and feet
  4. Jaundice
  5. Splenic Sequestation( sudden pooling of blood in the spleen) and liver Congestion
  6. Acute Chest Syndrome
  7. Kidney problems
  8. Leg Ulcers
  9. Hip problems and Bone Pain
  10. Eye Damage


Know your genotype before you say yes to that handsome guy or to that beautiful lady whom you wish to spend the rest of your life with…


*Genotype & It’s Appropriate Suitor:*
AA + AA = Excellent
AA + AS = Good
AA + SS = Fair
AS + AS = Bad
AS + SS = Very Bad
SS + SS = Extremely Bad (In fact, don’t try it)



Most children born with sickle cell do not see their 5th birthday in rural areas according to WHO survey 2004. Yet sickle cell is one of the most neglected in Sierra Leone. There are no routine checks done on pregnant mothers or newly born children to determine their sickle cell status. The Good news is that this dreadful disease that has taken the lives of our beloved children and continue to do so can actually be prevented with the Awareness of the root cause of sickle cell.  We need our labs to be well equipped for early detection and schools to include the awareness of sickle cell into their school curriculum.


Public health awareness  should be top on the health agenda!!
There are lots of walking course going about due to the lack of public health knowledge!