MOH News
MOH Celebrates World Sickle Cell Anemia Day
24 June 2015
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has taken part in celebrating the World Sickle Cell Anemia Day, noted this year on June 19th 2015, corresponding to Ramadan 2nd 1436H. The activities of the day focused on the theme: “Break the Silence on Sickle Cell Disorder”. In this regard,  the Ministry is showing keen interest in the activation and promotion of this occasion by organizing awareness exhibitions, workshops, lectures, as well as distributing awareness brochures on the importance of protection and treatment against  sickle cell anemia in the MOH's health facilities, including hospitals and primary healthcare centers spreading through regions, provinces, cities and villages of the Kingdom, in addition to the markets and commercial complexes through the partnerships the ministry made with different government health sectors and bodies and the civil society institutions. 

The MOH’s aim behind such activities is to boost community awareness that sickle cell anemia is a major health problem. In this regard, the ministry is encouraging health institutions to give more attention to sickle cell anemia for setting health programs at the national level, in addition to consolidating and supporting researches meant to improve the life quality of patients with sickle cell anemia.

Sickle cell anemia is one of the diseases covered by the healthy marriage program, carried out by the ministry since 1425 H for the early detection of this disease, and providing consultation and referral when necessary. In this regard, the total number of the applicants for the premarital screening through the program is 3.205.723 young males and females since Muharam 1st 1425H and up to the end of 1435H, whereas 9.417 cases of the disease were registered at a rate of 0.3% from the applicants, whilst the rate of the carriers of sickle cell anemia was 4.2%, totaling 136.333 carriers of the disease during the mentioned period. 

The program aims at limiting the spread of some genetic blood diseases and some infectious diseases, besides reducing the financial burdens resulting from the treatment of the injured in terms of the family and community. That is to be added to reducing pressure over health institutions and blood banks, avoiding the social and psychological problems for families whose children suffer, in addition to making those seeking such screening feel at ease, and disseminating awareness with regard to the concept of the comprehensive, healthy marriage.

It's noteworthy that MOH is conducting examination for five diseases through the healthy marriage program in order to identify if there is any incidence of genetic blood diseases such as sickle-cell anemia (SCA) and thalassemia, and some infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, C and HIV/AIDS. To that effect, the Ministry has prepared 130 centers distributed throughout the regions and provinces of the Kingdom to examine the prospective spouses, whilst the number of laboratories reached 91 to receive examination samples. In the same time, the number of medical consultation clinics amounted to 80, to provide consultation for patients who need it, or those with chronic or genetic diseases, whilst the workers in the program amounted to 1120 male and female employees.        

It's worth mentioning here that sickle cell anemia is one of the genetic blood diseases. It is caused by a disorder that occurs in the genes responsible for the formation of hemoglobin, causing the sticking of these cells into the small blood vessels, and therefore reducing the flow of oxygen and blood to the body's organs, which leads to the onset of symptoms suffered by the sickle cell patients, including severe pain, dyspnea and other symptoms.

It should be noted, within the same vein, that the significant symptoms of the sickle cell anemia include repeated spells of pain in different parts of the body, where the blood cells are broken and small vessels are blocked, such as: stomach ache, pains in joints or limbs, and the chronic anemia, in addition to repeated inflammation, accompanied by symptoms of malnutrition, short stature and slow growth. That is to be added to abnormalities in bone, drowsiness and fatigue and vision problems. It's very important to add here that protection against sickle cell anemia requires conducting premarital examination in a manner which helps in curbing transmission of the diseases among generations. In this regard, the test results show the likeliness of existence of genes infected with disorder for male or female spouses, particularly those who do not show symptoms of the disease.  
 

 



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