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Bahrain moves to check sickle cell disease

Focus on new facilities and support system after 7 deaths in a week

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrain is looking for new ways to tackle a recent surge in the incidence of sickle cell disease following the death of seven patients in one week.

Addressing a meeting convened urgently in view of the rising toll due to the disease, the country’s health minister Sadiq Al Shehabi said there was a need for a plan and prompt solutions to address the situation.

Al Shehabi said there was a shortage of facilities and staff given the scale of the problem and urged the ministers of social development, labour and education, as well as both the private and public sectors to be collectively involved in providing employment, support, social stability and better living conditions for people suffering from the disease.

According to the Health Ministry, 18,000 patients are being treated for sickle cell disease at the Salmaniya Medical Complex, the country’s largest hospital, alone.

With the numbers likely to increase, the ministry said it was putting together a protocol which lists the reduction of fatalities as its main goal. In a show of solidarity with the Health Ministry, campaigners in Bahrain have offered suggestions for raising community awareness and building on the first-hand experience of families supporting sickle cell patients, the ministry said.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition and occurs more frequently in countries where consanguineous marriage is common.