One in every fifty (50) live-births in Ghana is diagnosed with sickle cell disease, says Prof. Solomon Fiifi Ofori-Acquah, who is the Director of the Ghana Genome Project.
According to him, sickle cell and other rare genetic disorders should whip up stakeholder interests and support in order to decode the causes of these rare diseases especially among children in Ghana and possibly curb mutations.
Prof. Ofori-Acquah said this at a public lecture held at the University for Development Studies, Tamale.
The lecture dubbed; “the Ghana Genome…our duty to decode,” attracted traditional authorities, academia, UDS Medical students and selected second cycle institutions in the Tamale metropolis and Sanarigu municipal and it is the fifth in the series to be undertaken nationwide by the Ghana Genome Project based at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Among others; the GH Genome Project is aimed at creating awareness and understanding among the Ghanaian population on genetics and the burden of undiagnosed genetic diseases such as sickle cell, breast and prostate cancers among others.
Prof Ofori-Acquah explained that the project draws a linkage between academic research and active community life. This anchors around; organizing public lectures, providing free medical screenings, developing and funding postgraduate genetics training programmes/courses and sequencing DNAs.
“We must have conversations around genetics that do not bring laughter. The burden of undiagnosed genetic diseases must be a cause of worry for all Ghanaians and this isn’t something that should be left only in the hands of families with children of those rare diseases and medical experts alone,” Prof Ofori-Acquah remarked.
Prof Ofori-Acquah stated that funding grant of 3 million dollars has been secured through the World Bank and other partners including the US National Institute of Health, part of which will is being channeled into sequencing 500 children in Ghana with severe genetic disorders including sickle cell diseases, cancer and rear diseases.
“It is our duty to decode the mutations that cause rare diseases among children in Ghana. Every year, 400 children are diagnosed with cancers and other diseases like Childhood leukemia. The good thing; however is that the Tamale Teaching Hospital has started screening newborn for sickle cell diseases, the Project Director stated.
He said additional funding is needed for sequencing 500 more children in the country which calls for more support in whichever way possible. Prof. Ofori-Acquah thereby, rallied more stakeholders to come on board. They include policy makers, traditional authorities among others.
Prof. Eliot Alhassan who stood in for Prof. Seidu Al-hassan, Vice Chancellor of the UDS, said most often Ghanaians have linked their identity to common parental traits and not ethnicity.
He encouraged the public to find their sickle cell statuses before marriage and also find risk of getting breast or prostate cancers.
In a related development, the GH Genome Project team over the weekend organized a free medical screening for the Sanarigu Community at the forecourt of Sangnari-naa, attracting close to 300 persons including children.
The free health screening targeted primarily; sickle cells, prostate and breast cancers and beneficiaries were advised to go for specialists’ consultations and medication.
The Coordinator of the Medical Team and a Hematologist at the Korle-bu Teaching hospital, Dr. Amma Benneh-Akwasi Kuma, told Diamond News that high blood pressure was common among most of the adult population that were screened and they were advised to either continue with their medications or referred to a medical facility.
She said some of the young population also had waist pains while some of the children were malnourished and all these were given referrals to relevant medical practitioners for further consultations.
Some of the beneficiaries were grateful to the GH Genome Project for extending free medical screening to their doorsteps.
Story By: Nyadror Adanuti Nelson |www.diamondfmonline.com |Ghana.