By mandeep singh
gulf daily news
|Vol XXXI|| NO. 306|| ||Tuesday || ||20th January 2008 |
EVERY Bahraini health centre will soon have its own specialised sickle cell anaemia clinic, it was revealed yesterday.
The announcement came after the GDN reported 30 patients were waiting in pain for specialist care at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) on Sunday.
By yesterday, there was a backlog of 48 patients, most of whom were sickle cell anaemia patients with symptoms brought on by the cold weather and who were refusing to leave, according to chief of medical staff Dr Amin Al Sa'ati.
It is hoped the new clinics will mean faster care for patients and reduce demand for beds at the country's overburdened main hospital.
"Now all patients rush to the SMC, which is often swamped with patients," consultant
clinical geneticist and SMC genetic department head Dr Shaikha Al Arayyed said yesterday.
"This results in frayed tempers, a lack of beds and sometimes treatment."
She said this could be avoided if patients were only referred to SMC by health centres in the worst cases.
"In most case, it is only painkillers, sedation and rest and that can be done at the health centres," explained Dr Al Arayyed.
Dr Al Arayyed is also Health Ministry National Committee for Control of Hereditary Diseases co-ordinator and a member of the World Health Organisation's expert advisory panel on human genetics.
She also revealed that training for health
centre staff to manage such patients would begin shortly, having been finalised a week ago by the newly formed National Sickle Cell Anaemia Committee.
Meanwhile, the committee has ordered the formation of teams of doctors, nurses and psychiatrists to help patients cope with the disease.
"It has decided to provide special services to pregnant women suffering from sickle cell anaemia to ensure safe pregnancy and delivery, as well as the safety of newborns," said Dr Al Arayyed.
"Such patients will be closely
monitored by a team of doctors and nurses at SMC."
She said the panel was formed in line with the health minister's
directives to stop spread of the disease. It also includes a new health protocol for such patients.
"The number of inherited blood diseases has been declining since the implementation of pre-marital tests in 2004 and further decline is expected," she said.
The hereditary disease, which cannot be cured and can be extremely painful for sufferers, currently affects more than 18,000 Bahrainis, she told GDN.
Those born with it have abnormal haemoglobin molecules and is common due to the large number of marriages involving people from the same family - estimates suggest anywhere between 25 to 60 per cent of all Bahraini
marriages involve cousins.
Dr Al Arayyed's efforts to tackle the problem in Bahrain have resulted in her being invited to advise National Health Service (NHS) officials to tackle the problem in the UK, where she will help establish a screening programme for
sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.
A premarital blood-screening programme has already been set up in Bahrain.
She said, however, allegations that sickle cell patients had died at the SMC due to doctors' negligence were unfortunate.
"With prompt treatment, these allegations can be avoided," she said.
Late last year, the ministry announced the formation of a committee to probe the death of patient Hani Hassan Al Mayouf at SMC.
Family members alleged the 26-year-old man died due to the negligence of the hospital staff.
A seven-month pregnant woman also died in SMC last year.
Results of investigations into both cases are still awaited.
Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care Zakareya Ebrahim Alkadhem said yesterday that he expected sufferers to continue flocking to SMC throughout the winter, when the cold weather aggravates their condition.
"There has to be a long-term solution to this," he said.