Kenya to launch policy guidelines for infant sickle cell screening

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Kenya's Ministry of Health is implementing health system reforms to accelerate control interventions for sickle cell disease in the country, with policy guidelines for infant screening to be launched.

Speaking during the celebration of World Sickle Cell day celebrations in Nairobi, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for Health, Dr. Rashid Aman, lauded Kisumu County health department for being a front runner in the screening of newborns for the disease, said the guidelines which will be implemented in phases, will ensure that infants are screened and linked to care.

"Even as we commemorate this day, we must ask ourselves critical questions. Top among these is, have we done enough?

I recognize the efforts put forth by county governments in improving health services since the advent of devolution; I urge them to sustain these efforts and invest more in sickle cell disease, including procuring sufficient medicines, supplies and technologies for screening, diagnosis and management for the condition," said CAS Rashid.

At the same time, CAS Rashid called for the need for collective efforts to address the burden of sickle cell disease.

“In this light, the Ministry of Health has established a National Multisectoral and Multi-Stakeholder Technical Working Group, which is working to address the three key thematic areas of our sickle cell disease response: Advocacy, Screening, Diagnosis, Care and Treatment and Data, surveillance and research" noted CAS Rashid.

He said the attainment of UHC by the government is a noble and essential mission that will underpin the achievement of the core principle of the Vision 2030 Agenda; that is, the realization of a society where no one is left behind.

"I am glad that this UHC commitment will cover sickle cell disease and other NCDs that suffer the most in terms of out-of-pocket payments to access care over the lifelong course of the conditions.

At least 240,000 children in Africa are born yearly with Sickle Cell Disease. In Kenya, it is estimated that 14,000 children are born with Sickle Cell Disease every year.

In the absence of routine newborn screening and appropriate treatment, an estimated 50-90% of those born with the condition die undiagnosed before their 5th birthday in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This disease is common across Kenya, affecting 18 counties, with high disease burden pockets in Western, Nyanza and Coastal regions.

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