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JIS News

The Sickle Cell Trust will be embarking on a series of public meetings in the parish of St. Elizabeth, aimed at educating the public about the sickle cell disease and to encourage persons to get tested for the trait.
The meetings, which will be held in collaboration with the Jamaica Information Service’s Mandeville office, will begin Monday, October 2 at the Junction Health Centre.
Education Coordinator for the Trust, Karlene Mason, told JIS News that the target audience would be expectant mothers, who attend the antenatal clinic.
“We will be in the parish for a week until the sixth and during this time, we intend to bring the message home about the importance of finding out your status where the sickle cell gene is concerned, as the presence of the trait can have serious implication for your future offspring,” she informed.
Ms. Mason explained that if two people in a relationship had the sickle cell trait, then there was a 25 per cent possibility that any children born from the union could develop the disease.
“Information is key as by knowing your status, then you can prevent this from happening. For those who have children with the trait, we also have very valuable information to share with them at our meetings,’ she said.
Ms. Mason informed that members of the Trust would also be visiting a number of educational institutions as part of the outreach.
“Here, we want to highlight some of the common misconceptions associated with the disease such as the fact that one cannot catch the disease through physical contact with someone who has it, and also that when one sees sores or ulcers on the feet of someone with the disease, that this is a natural occurrence and not a result of poor hygiene,” she pointed out.
In addition, a special month-long exhibition on sickle cell will be mounted at the Santa Cruz Library and Miss Mason invited persons interested in learning more about the disease and the trait to visit the library and view the exhibition.
Sickle cell disease is a hereditary form of anaemia, occurring mainly in people of African ancestry, in which a large number of red blood cells become sickle shaped.
It is estimated that about 10 per cent of the Jamaican population have the sickle cell trait.