We’ve all heard about Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and may have even met a friend, relative, or coworker who has it. SCD affects 25 million individuals globally, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 85% of global estimates. Every year, 18,000 infants in Ghana are born with sickle cell disease.
Despite the fact that SCD has a long history in Ghana and other regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, there are many myths and misinformation concerning the disease. This, according to Dr. Mary Ansong, Founder and CEO of the International Sickle Cell Centre (ISCC), is one of the key reasons why the ISCC teamed with AirtelTigo Touching Lives to boost sickle cell awareness and break the stigma associated with the condition.
We shed light on the foundations of sickle cell illness in Episode 1 of the award-winning series, AirtelTigo Touching Lives.
What exactly is Sickle Cell Disease?
Dr. Ansong explains what SCD is all about. She describes sickle cell disease as a hereditary blood abnormality that is present from birth. Sickle cell disorder causes red blood cells to shift from their regular doughnut form to the shape of a banana. This causes them to become stiff and sticky, clogging tiny blood arteries and preventing oxygen from reaching important bodily regions. As a result, pain episodes, sometimes known as crises, occur, as can other problems such as severe anaemia, recurring infections, stroke, and various organ damage.
Experiences with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)
Regina Atatsi, a Sickle Cell Warrior, described her life, which included the agony of motherhood as well as SCD. Her mum has been her greatest supporter since she was a youngster till now. She also remembered a teacher telling her in Junior High School that she would be dead before the age of 21. That upset her and made her appreciate her 30th birthday, which she celebrated with a photoshoot.
With SCD, you can thrive.
Regina revealed that she consumes a lot of water to stay hydrated and dresses warmly when the weather is chilly. She works at her own pace and takes breaks when she becomes weary. She takes hydroxyurea, a drug that has helped her pain bouts become less frequent.
Beatrice Gyamerah, an 82-year-old Sickle Cell Warrior also notifies the world she has SCD and highlighted the point that “sickle cell disease is not a death sentence”.
Leo Skarlatos, CEO of AirtelTigo, expressed joy in AirtelTigo’s efforts to raise awareness of SCD and positively touch the lives of those living with SCD.
AirtelTigo Touching Lives is an AirtelTigo corporate social responsibility project. The Sickle Cell Edition is produced in collaboration with the International Sickle Cell Centre (ISCC) and will feature ISCC medical professionals, people living with SCD, families, carers, and SCD activists providing information to reduce social stigma.
AirtelTigo’s YouTube channel, Facebook’s official Facebook page, and ISCC’s social media handles (Facebook and Instagram) @isccghana all include episodes.