(MENAFN Press) Muscat, Oman
Local experts in Oman were joined by doctors from Kuwait, Bahrain as well as international doctors to discuss the treatment and management of the genetic blood disorder of sickle cell disease in Oman over the weekend.
The speaker tour, sponsored by health leader Novartis Oncology, aimed to deliver up-to-date clinical data and optimal practice in the treatment of the disease.
Sickle cell disease is one of the most common genetic diseases in the world, especially in areas affected by malaria, as the sickle cell trait provided protection against malaria infection, according to Dr. Androulla Eleftheriou, Head of the International Thalassemia Foundation, which also covers sickle cell disease, and who spoke at the Oman congress.
The current available data indicates that around 120 children are born with the disorder in Oman every year, with more than 4000 patients suffering from sickle cell disease across the country, said Dr Muhanna Al Muslahi, Senior Consultant and Head of Haematology at Royal Hospital, Muscat.
"The disease is a major problem for health care resources too; As much as 20 percent of emergency room admissions are a direct result of complications of the disease and this number can go up to 30 percent outside the capital “ doctors feel it is easier to admit patients than to manage them at the emergency department where longer hours of intravenous medication is required." added Dr Al Muslahi, who presented at the congress.
Sickle cell disease is named after the abnormal sickle-shape that red blood cells take in affected individuals.
Ischaemic stroke is one of the most devastating complications that affects children and, to a lesser extent, adults with sickle cell disease. Approximately 24 percent of patients experience stroke before the age of 45, and the risk is highest in the first decade of life.
Early diagnosis is crucial to the management of the disease, with doctors stressing the importance of newborn screening and familial education seminars to help prevent or mitigate complications.
Across the Gulf, recent implementation of a registry in Kuwait with the approval of the Ministry of Health has allowed local doctors to estimate that up to 600 patients suffer from the genetic disease, with almost 300 patients already registered.
"The registry is incredibly important because we need to compare regional data to the rest of the world. It is also useful for planning purposes and formulating appropriate and uniform management protocols.It would be even more helpful if there was a combined Gulf registry where we could pool data and increase quality of care across the entire region," added Professor Adekunle Adekile, Head of Pediatric Hematology Unit, Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital, and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Kuwait University, Kuwait.
Oman is currently in the process of establishing its framework for a registry in collaboration with the health authorities in the country. Once established, Dr. Muslahi estimates that usable data can be collated within 18 months.
The national committee for sickle cell disease has worked towards establishing a day care centre in two main towns in Oman, and the Ministry of Health will look to inaugurate a haemoglobin centre in the capital, Muscat.
The general public tends to be more informed of the blood disorder thalassemia, and more awareness is required for sufferers of sickle cell disease.
"Contrary to thalassemia, patients with sickle cell disease are not recognizable in their developmental appearances and diagnosis, though easy, occurs via screening," said Dr. Eleftheriou.
"We are happy to have provided information that policy makers and the medical community can use to help implement policies to assist in the management of these blood disorders," she added.