HUNDREDS of patients and doctors are expected to attend a major conference on sickle cell disease next month at the Gulf Air Club, Salmabad.
The Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Anaemia Patients Care is organising the annual event to spread awareness about the disease.
This year's meeting follows a spate of deaths among sickle cell sufferers, with nine patients dying in the space of less than three weeks from June 28 to July 19.
The society has so far registered 17 sickle cell deaths this year and hopes to promote its ID card initiative during the meeting on August 1, which starts at 9pm and is expected to be attended by Health Minister Sadiq Al Shehabi and other officials.
It is pushing for a scheme in which sickle cell patients are issued ID cards listing details such as blood type, CPR number and other health-related information so they receive proper treatment. The gathering will feature speeches by society members and a special film showcasing the work of sickle cell activist Jehad Rabia, who died last month from the disease.
She was among several Bahraini patients who died at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), forcing health authorities to respond to a spate of deaths. "A short film of Jehad's work with the society will be showcased along with another Bahraini film titled Wabel, that highlights the stages of life of a sickle cell patient," said society member Samah Hussain. She said she hoped the fact that it fell in Ramadan would encourage more people to take part in the event.
"We want more people to know about the disease and those living with it," she added. After several deaths of sickle cell patients in a short period, Mr Al Shehabi this month admitted errors had been made in the treatment of sufferers. He ordered officials to come up with a comprehensive plan to tackle the problem and treat patients.
Campaigners have blamed inadequate facilities at SMC and shortage of Intensive Care Unit beds for sickle cell deaths, although officials maintain they have tried their best to provide patients with the best care. The GDN reported on July 20 that as a temporary measure it was planning to treat male sickle cell patients at the Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo Community Medical Centre in Salmaniya.
According to ministry figures, 18,000 sickle cell patients receive treatment at SMC. However, society members say the total number of carriers of the disease, excluding those being treated, is about 65,000. A BD2.5 million, four-storey facility that will treat all patients with blood diseases including sickle cell is now being built.
The 90-bed facility expected to open early next year will treat all patients with blood diseases, but should be of particular help to those suffering from sickle cell disease. firstname.lastname@example.org