JIS News

The Sickle Cell Trust’s outreach meetings, being held in St. Elizabeth from October 1 to 7, have been a success so far, said Educational Coordinator of the Trust, Karlene Mason.
So far, educational talks have been held at seven institutions and these will continue for the rest of this week at Leeds Primary, Ballards Valley Primary, Rose Hall All-age, and Burnt Savannah Primary School.
The outreach, which began on October 1 with a church service at the Santa Cruz Baptist Church, is aimed at raising public awareness of sickle cell disease.
According to Miss Mason, “the aim is . to generally lift the levels of awareness that people have, to try and dispel some of the myths, because . we have had situations where students with sickle cell would come to school with yellow eyes or sores on their legs and they would get sent home by teachers or scorned by children”.
Targeted are primary and all-age school students, she said “because I find that when the little ones learn, they will take it with them and in fact, some of them can take home information and tell their parents about sickle cell.”
Miss Mason said, “we hope through these meetings, to make a difference to the way people think about persons with sickle cell, about the things that people believe about sickle cell, and hopefully after a time, sickle cell patients will have less problems with other persons relating to them.”
She noted further that “sickle cell is usually used as an example of a genetically inherited disease in the (CXC) Caribbean Examination Council Biology syllabus, so if the kids in the science group learn about sickle cell from now, it will help them in their exams”.
One in every 10 Jamaicans or approximately 270,000 persons have the sickle cell trait, while one in every 300 births has a form of the sickle cell disease.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited change in the red blood cells, whereby the normal round shape of the cell is changed to an abnormal sickle shape, which results in blockage of the flow in the blood vessels.

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