Bahrain sickle cell claims 1 life per week
Manama, November 3, 2012
Bahrain is on the verge of a sickle cell crisis with the disease claiming the life of a person almost once a week, campaigners were quoted as saying.
Fatima Yousif Radhi, 36, from Shahrakan, became the latest victim when she suffered complications while being treated at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) on Thursday, a report in teh Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper, said.
Her death came less than 24 hours after Sayed Jaffar Sayed Adnan, 21, died in the hospital of similar complications.
Forty-one sickle cell anaemia patients have now died since the start of the year, compared to 32 last year, 35 in 2010, 28 in 2009 and 23 in 2008.
"We are almost on the verge of a crisis in Bahrain," said Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care chairman Zakareya Ebrahim Al Kadhem.
"Last year we had an average of about 2.5 deaths per month but this year the number has almost doubled."
Al Kadhem said the society had not registered a single death during the month of December since 2005 and were hoping that trend will continue in a bid to halt the rising death rate.
"We still have November to go and are expecting the death toll to increase as we have no options left," he said.
A BD2.5 million ($6.65 million) 90-bed facility to treat all patients with blood diseases is due to be operational at SMC next year and is expected to have an accident and emergency department, an out-patient department and a ward each for children, men and women.
Al Kadhem, who claimed not enough was being done to stop deaths among people suffering from sickle cell anaemia, said some political societies had approached him about taking up the issue of better treatment for victims.
But he said they had been warned not to politicise the issue.
"We do not want the government or other bodies to misunderstand the society's objective to help patients and their families," he said.
The society earlier announced plans to take legal action against the Health Ministry on behalf of sickle cell patients who had died in Bahrain since 2008, with families of more than 100 victims expected to join the lawsuit.
"We are still in the process of registering the details of the affected families and also following up investigations launched by the Health Ministry into negligence claims made by patients or their relatives," he said.
Ministry officials could not be reached for comment but SMC genetic department chairwoman Dr Shaikha Salim Al Arayyed, who heads the ministry's committee overseeing the treatment of sickle cell cases, told ours sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News, earlier this month that sickle cell patients were putting themselves at increased risk by not having regular medical check-ups.
She said patients in Bahrain often lived to be more than 70, above the international average of 60, and there had been no recorded fatality in patients aged under five - compared to a death rate of 20 per cent for that age group in the US.
Up to 500 patients a day visit government facilities for sickle cell patients. – TradeArabia News Service