Overall, the prevalence of sickle cell trait was 13.3%, but it was more than 20% in eight districts. Among babies aged 6 months or younger, the overall prevalence of sickle cell trait was 13.2% and of disease was 0.8%, which suggests that at least 15,000 babies per year are born with sickle cell disease in Uganda.
Currently, in the Lango subregion, it stands at 23%, which is above the national prevalence of 17%.
Following this leaders are advocating for pre-marriage testing to mitigate the increase and discourage close intermarriages.
According to Dr. Tony Odung, the District Health Officer of Alebtong, the disease recently claimed the lives of five babies, including children in the district.
” A week ago we discovered that Alebtong tops with the highest prevalence in the entire country with a prevalence rate of 23%.”- Dr Odungu said.
He says the district is currently also faced with malaria which has made it a double risk thus appealing for a pre-marriage test between two partners who intend to marry.
“This is a result of a marriage between very close relatives because if a career marries another career they end up with the disease itself.”
“My appeal is to the young people to do checkups before they marry to avoid giving birth to sicklers. “- He added
It is worth noting that Uganda was among the first countries in Africa with a documented large burden of sickle cell disease. In 1949, substantial differences in the prevalence of sickle cell traits were reported between different tribes, ranging from less than 5% for Hamites in the southwest to more than 20% for the northern Nilotices (Lango and Acholi).
Some Bantu tribes had even higher rates, including 45% of Bamba living in the western region. A later study, however, has suggested lower values, though, both studies were based on small samples and were not representative of the whole country.