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Facts about sickle cell anemia

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sickle cell• September is sickle cell anemia awareness month.
• It has been commemorated since 1983.
• Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder where one’s red blood cells are shaped like sickles, C-shaped.
• It affects people whose parents are both carriers.
• Approximately, 300,000 children are born each year with the condition globally.
• Of this, it is estimated that 50–80 per cent of them die before adulthood.
• The condition causes the red blood cells to be hard and sticky thereby limiting hence limiting oxygen supply in the body.

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• Due to this, their red blood cells live for only 20 days compared to those without the condition, which live for 120 days.
• People with condition usually drink a lot of water so as to enable the flow and viscosity of blood.
• They are required to visit the hospital regularly for checkups.
• Its symptoms include paleness o the skin and nails, regular anemia, yellow eyes (the sclera is yellow instead of white), one is prone to infections, unexplainable pain caused due to lack of oxygen tissue, delayed growth and development in children and swelling of hands and feet.
• Sickle cell anemia can lead to a stroke, organ damage (spleen, liver or kidney), poor vision, impotence, ulcers and hypertension among others caused due to the restriction of blood low in the body.
• It is not curable but there is medication that helps with the condition and to manage the pain.
• The life expectancy of some with the condition in Kenya is 45 years old.
• Sickle anemia patients are required to maintain a balanced diet.
• Each year, on June 19 the world commemorates the sickle cell anemia day in an effort to raise public awareness and understanding of the condition.
• It was adopted in December 2008 by the UN General Assembly following discussions on how to increase public knowledge of the disease.

The Ministry of Health takes measures to curb suicide cases among youth in the country

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The Government has laid out an elaborate strategy to address the suicide mortality problem and its high negative impacts to the society.

The Ministry of Health has adopted strategic and evidence-based approaches in the Kenya Health Policy 2014-2030, the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030 and Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan 2013-2017 to address suicide prevention through screening for early detection, access to treatment and care for persons with suicidal behavior.

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Speaking during the celebration to mark the World Suicide Prevention Day at Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital on Monday September 11, the Principal Secretary for Health, Dr. Julius Korir lamented over the rising cases of suicide mortalities, now the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.

Globally, more than 800,000 people die annually through suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt.

The PS who was represented by the Head of Curative and Rehabilitative Services, Dr. Izaq Odongo revealed that the Kenya Mental Health Policy has prioritized the development of a Suicide Prevention Strategy and Program and urged all the stakeholders to work with the Ministry in the endeavor which, will provide a framework for comprehensive and evidence based management of suicidal behaviour and associated morbidity and complications.

The PS urged the members of communities to take responsibility in looking out for those who may be in a state of struggle and hopelessness, connect with them, communicate with them and care for them in line with this year’s suicide prevention day theme “Take a minute, change a life.”

He said suicide and suicidal behaviors are caused by biological, social, psychological, cultural and economic factors. and the situation is complicated by high stigma attached to suicide and suicidal behavior, as well as other challenges such as legal barriers that deter people from opening up and getting access to the needed care.
Most suicides occur in low and middle-income countries where there are huge gaps in health systems and resources which limit early identification, treatment and support of people in need.

“This striking facts make suicide a serious global public health problem that needs to be tackled urgently in partnership and collaboration of all stakeholders,” he argued.

He called for enhancement and strengthening of protective factors, mitigation on the risks factors and addressing barriers which hinder access to care, provision of emergency response and intervention for those in distress.

He also appealed to all stakeholders to partner and collaborate across the sectors to pull resources together for effective implementation of policies, strategies and priority actions to prevent suicidal behaviour and suicide.

“We need to provide the highest standards of healthcare services to persons with morbidity and problems potential risks of suicide. Together, let us work towards the ultimate goal of preventing suicide,” he said.

Centre for special needs children opened in Westlands, Nairobi

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IMG-20170721-WA0005A centre called My Ella Centre that caters for special needs children in Kenya including those with Down’s syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy has opened in Nairobi.
It offers programs and services that aim to empower individuals with Down’s syndrome and other special needs in order to reach their full potential.

“We are a place that gives hope to families by providing services with knowledgeable specialists and health care providers. Our aim is to promote awareness for children with special needs throughout our community.”

Down syndrome is a condition in which one is born with more chromosomes and because of it one will have physical health and development delays, characteristic facial features and some level of intellectual disability.

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In Kenya, approximately one in 1,000 babies is born with the condition and globally according to WHO, around 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with Down Syndrome every year.

Children with special needs need help to learn basic skills that typical children learn easily such as playing with toys appropriately. Many of the special children we serve have difficulty processing the input that they receive from their senses and the environment.

Thus, the My Ella Centre was founded in a bid to create and enhance the awareness about the condition in the country by Eva Gichuki and Robert Migadde, parents to Ella, a child with Down Syndrome.

We started the My Ella Down Syndrome Foundation in 2014 because we were frustrated by the lack of information and limited services for persons with Down’s syndrome. There was a lack of awareness even among service providers including medical staff and teachers therefore we decided that will enasble other people access information about the condition.

We wanted to ensure that children born with Down’s syndrome have a chance to participate fully in their communities and develop their talents and skills like all other children.

The centre offers occupational therapy which helps them build strength, handwriting, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and self-care e.g. getting dressed, feeding among others.

“Our occupational therapists at My Ella Centre provide individualized assessments, intervention and monitoring the child’s’ progress. We also encourage children to maximise their potential through day-to-day activities.”

It also offers speech therapy that aids in improving language as well as articulation and fluency. In addition to this there is physical therapy that assists in movement potential.

My Ella Centre is located on 7th Floor Azure Towers, Lantana Road, Nairobi Westlands, Kenya. Contact: 0770 993 098.

Healthcare forum for parents with special needs kids

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My Ella Centre, an organization that caters for special needs children in Kenya will next week host a forum in a bid to address the challenges that face parents with children with special needs.

“The main objective of this forum is to have an open discussion with professionals in health care, medical field, therapists, caregivers, health insurance companies, parents and teachers on the issues faced by families with special needs and available solutions,” said Eva Gichuki, the founder of the centre.

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It is the second time that the centre is organizing a forum, to help guardians with information that in the care of their children. Such a forum also provides a platform for parents to interact and share their experiences and advice.

In Kenya special needs education for children has been neglected; there are 50,744 disabled students enrolled in school and only 24,000 of them in special schools thus they lack the proper guidance to advance them in their education.

It is due to this lack o proper education that the founders of My Ella Centre began the organization. It was started following frustrations by the founders, who are parents of a child with special needs, due to a lack of information and limited services for persons with disabilities.

“There was a lack of awareness even among service providers including medical staff and teachers therefore we decided that will enable other people access information about the condition.”

However, with adequate information provided and proper education at such centres, children born with disabilities can participate fully in their communities and develop their talents and skills like all other children.

Besides the forum, the centre also offers occupational therapy in a bid to improve handwriting, visual motor and self-care e.g. getting dressed, feeding among others. It also offers speech therapy, physical therapy, play and learn among others.

The event will feature eight key speakers on the day. To get in touch with them contact: 0770993098.

It will take place on Saturday 16h September from 9am to 2pm at the My Ella Centre is located on 7th Floor Azure Towers, Lantana Road, Nairobi Westlands. Those interested in attending need to RSVP by 9th September.

A new anti-malarial is being tested in Africa by pharmaceutical company,Novartis

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downloadIn a bid to eradicate malaria globally, pharmaceutical company, Novartis in collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) has launched a trial for its antimalarial compound called KAF156, which has the potential to treat drug-resistant strains of the malaria parasite.


"This new milestone underscores our company's long-standing commitment to the fight against malaria.With nearly half of the world's population at risk, malaria continues to be a major public health challenge. Developing new antimalarial medicines is critical to achieving malaria elimination. Innovative science continues to be our best weapon against the disease," said Vas Narasimhan, Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer, Novartis.

 

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In Kenya, malaria is the second leading cause of death accounting for 16,000 deaths in 2016 and kills almost half a million people every year globally. Therefore for Novartis to introduce a compound that has the potential to clear malaria infection, including resistant strains, as well as to block the transmission of the malaria parasite, it could save lives.


The first trial center for the KAF156 is already operational in Mali and will be followed by sixteen additional centers across a total of nine countries in Africa and Asia over the next few months.


"To build on the gains made against malaria since the turn of the century, we need new medicines that are effective across all types of resistance patterns and geographies, and that are easy to administer, especially to children," said Dr David Reddy, CEO of MMV.


"With the phase IIb trial of KAF156-lumefantrine now underway, the MMV-Novartis partnership is drawing closer to the exciting prospect of such a new medicine that would be a powerful tool to fight the disease."


In Mali, malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality especially among children under the age of five and in Africa as a whole, a child dies every minute to 45 seconds due to the disease.


"Malaria is a major public health concern in Mali - especially for children. Thus, the need for novel antimalarials is urgent. Because it is a new compound with the potential to treat malaria including strains resistant to currently used antimalarials, we are particularly motivated to run the KAF156 patient trial at our site in Mali,” said Dr. Bakary Fofana, clinical trial investigator at the Malaria Research and Training Center in Bougoula - Hameau.

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