A FIRST of its kind clinic to treat sickle cell patients will open later this month at Bahrain's main hospital.
The pilot facility, which is the only multi-disciplinary clinic in the region, will operate at Salmaniya Medical Complex from June 25.
Health officials met more than 30 specialists yesterday, including paramedics, who will work for the clinic and provide comprehensive treatment.
"This is the first of its kind multi-disciplinary clinic in the Middle East to treat sickle cell patients," said Health Ministry hospital affairs assistant under-secretary Dr Ameen Al Sa'ati.
"A patient has to pass through nine different stages of treatment starting from a nurse, who will evaluate the vital signs.
"The patient will then go through a chain of experts including a haematologist and the last stop is a nutritionist."
Dr Al Sa'ati said every detail of a patient's condition will be recorded and they will be diagnosed accordingly.
"In addition to all the experts we will also have pain management specialists, orthopaedic surgeons, psychologists and social workers present at this clinic to assist patients,"
"I strongly believe this clinic is a turning point in the treatment of sickle cell disease in Bahrain.
"We are looking forward to co-operate with all stake holders and want to help sickle cell patients."
Dr Al Sa'ati said the clinic will operate twice a week during its initial stage - on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 5.15pm.
"The number of days will be increased in the coming months to seven days and gradually the clinic will be open 24 hours a day," he explained.
He also said a 90-bed haematology centre opposite Al Fateh Specialist Centre at SMC is expected to open in the coming months.
The four-storey facility has an accident and emergency department, an out-patient department and wards for children, men and women.
"Once the haematology centre is ready we will shift this multi-disciplinary clinic for sickle cell patients there," said Dr Al Sa'ati.
Meanwhile, Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care president Zakreya Al Kadhem said he was not informed of the new clinic and claimed patients continue to be denied treatment.
"We were not informed despite the Health Ministry knowing that we represent thousands of patients," he said.
"There are difficulties which could lead to disasters. All Sickle cell patients now fall under the category of morphine addicts because of the attitude of the ministry."
He was referring to the ministry's decision last month to order doctors to wait a minimum of eight hours between each dose of morphine given to patients in a bid to stop the problem.
Health Minister Sadiq Al Shehabi defended the decision after they found out that 28,350 morphine doses were used monthly by both public and private hospitals - about 900 units a day.
However, Mr Al Kadhem said there were only 200 sickle cell patients who were morphine addicts and required help.
"But this does not mean all sickle cell patients are like them and treated in the same manner," he added.