Africa should strengthen health systems for improved prevention

29Apr 2021
The Guardian
Africa should strengthen health systems for improved prevention
  • and control of NCDS  

Haemophilia  also spelled hemophilia  is a mostly inherited genetic disorder that impairs the body's ability to make blood clots, a process needed to stop bleeding.  This results in people bleeding for a longer time after an injury, easy bruising, and an increased risk of bleeding inside joints-

-or the brain.  Those with a mild case of the disease may have symptoms only after an accident or during surgery.  Bleeding into a joint can result in permanent damage while bleeding in the brain can result in long term headaches, seizures, or a decreased level of consciousness.  

There are two main types of haemophilia: haemophilia A, which occurs due to low amounts of clotting factor    and haemophilia B, which occurs due to low levels of clotting factor. They are typically inherited from one's parents.   Acquired haemophilia is associated with cancers, autoimmune disorders, and pregnancy.  Diagnosis is by testing the blood for its ability to clot and its levels of clotting factors.  

Prevention may occur by removing an egg, fertilising it, and testing the embryo before transferring it to the uterus.  Treatment is by replacing the missing blood clotting factors.  This may be done on a regular basis or during bleeding episodes.  Replacement may take place at home or in hospital.  The clotting factors are made either from human blood or by recombinant methods.   

Hematologists are calling for inclusion of blood-related diseases in the national plan against non communicable diseases (NCDs) and the formulation of a treatment guideline to streamline responses by medical personnel caring for hemophilia and sickle-cell patients.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday at one-day training session for medical staff from various hospitals and health centres in the city on caring for patients with blood complications, the specialists aired the need for establishing clinics in referral and regional hospitals to facilitate data collection on the actual number of people suffering with blood related complications.

 Dr Stella Rwezaura head of the Hematology Department at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), said the hospital administration was seeking to equip medical staff with skills on how to care for such patients because we have seen that there is a knowledge gap among reception and other medical auxiliaries, tied with lack of equipment and expertise,”

She said there are few such experts countrywide, while blood complications are also a rare occurrences.

Current data shows there are about 6000 to 12,000 people suffering from hemophilia and sickle cell nationwide, with only 170 registered patients who are on treatment, she said, underlining the need for

a nationwide sensitization campaign on blood related disorders.

This would help to improve the lives of thousands of Tanzanians suffering in silence, she affirmed.

Dr Rashid Mfaume, the Regional Medical Officer for Dar es Salaam, said in his remarks that it was vital to equip health workers with knowledge on how to care for such patients. This will help in breaking the silence on challenges they face in receiving such patients in health facilities, he stated.

The training was funded by the World Federation of Hemophilia in collaboration with Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation, officials said.

Research shows that blood related diseases pose a threat to large numbers of households due to lack of general knowledge, with many people turning to traditional medication suspecting that the disease was due to witchcraft. Many end up losing their lives due to its complications, as hemophilic patients subjected to piercing the skin by medicinemen tend to bleed continuously and this could lead to death.

Hemophilia is a mostly inherited genetic disorder that impairs the body's ability to make blood clots, a process needed to stop bleeding.

In a country where people suffer from inherited blood diseases such as sickle cell, hemophilia, leukemia and thalassemias, there is an increasing need for experts who can effectively tackle the conditions at all operational levels from district and regional hospitals to referral and national hospitals, the medics noted.

Researchers say the shortage of experts in haematology and blood transfusion services has a far-reaching impact on healthcare provision needs. This is especially the case for early detection of blood diseases, laboratory diagnosis and blood transfusion.

Top Stories