Hassanatu, aged 9, was rushed to Mercy Hospital early in the morning with generalized pain and high fever. The child was screened and assessed, revealing that she was suffering from sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic condition that can be fatal if left untreated.
Dr. Aruna Stevens placed Hassanatu on appropriate drug treatment, and her condition quickly improved. Her mother received important information about diet and environment, with an emphasis on sleeping with a bed net, as malaria had worsened her condition. Hassanatu had been missing school, and was grateful that she would be able to return.
Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder worldwide, with the highest prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease may be significantly underdiagnosed, due to a lack of health resources and access in places like Sierra Leone. In sub-Saharan Africa, 50–90% of children with SCD die before their fifth birthday, while in countries with established newborn screening and treatment programs, over 90% of affected children survive well into adulthood (Oxford Medical case reports.)
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