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JIS News

Chairman of the Jamaica Haemophilia Committee, Dr. Gillian Wharfe, has said that challenges exist in treating haemophiliacs in the country.
Speaking with JIS News, Dr. Wharfe said that the on and off shortage of blood has affected the treatment of patients. “You have persons, who may recognise that they have a bleed and they call in for help and we have nothing to offer them on some occasions,” she said.
“The ideal situation would be to purchase the commercially prepared clotting factor concentrate and we are unable to afford that at this point in time,” Dr. Wharfe added.
Haemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder that is due to the absence or reduced amount of a particular clotting factor.
Usually the condition, which only affects males, is diagnosed in the first year of life and if not properly treated, persons may die before age 19 years. Those who survive, even when not treated adequately, live in considerable pain, suffer disabilities and are isolated.
Dr. Wharfe explained that elsewhere in the world, especially in more developed countries, children with severe haemophilia are treated even before they have a bleed in order to prevent such an occurrence.
“I know it is a small group of persons that have the condition in Jamaica and it is fairly expensive to treat, so in a country where there is limited resources, I am aware the money will be spent to treat a large group of people, with another conditions,” she said.
In Jamaica it is reported that 300 persons are living with the condition. “We only see a small number of these persons and they only come to us at the time when they have a bleeding episode,” Dr. Wharfe pointed out.
She was speaking within the context of World Haemophilia Day, which is observed worldwide on April 17, but will be observed tomorrow (April 11) in Jamaica. The theme for this year is: ‘Treatment for all’.
“Our goal is to try to encourage all persons with bleeding disorders to have access to safe and effective treatment, because as yet, there is no cure for these bleeding disorders,” Dr. Wharfe noted.
As part of the day’s observance, a special display will be mounted at the University Hospital of the West Indies. Dr. Wharfe said that the activity was organised to educate people about haemophilia and to encourage people to understand the condition, so that they in turn, can educate others at their institutions and schools.
“People need to know the kind of problems that children with the condition have and eventually if they live to adulthood, what kinds of problems they would have as adults, in terms of bleeding complications,” she pointed out.
It is estimated that there are 400,000 people affected worldwide by the bleeding disorder, with some 75 per cent of them undiagnosed and untreated.