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Medical Journal of Zambia

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Health services access for young children with sickle cell anaemia in the chilubi district of Zambia

D Sinkala, L.C. Fleming, F Silwimba, K.H. Jacobsen

Abstract


Background: Young children with sickle cell anaemia (SCA) require frequent medical interventions to prevent fatal complications and improve quality of life.

Methods: The care givers of 40 randomly-sampled children <5 years old with SCA who lived in rural Chilubi district in northern Zambia were interviewed in 2016.

Results: Most of the parents had poor knowledge of SCA, treated most SCA symptoms at home, and were unaware of the SCA complications requiring emergency clinical care. Distance and cost were frequent barriers to accessing medical services. The local clinic was perceived to lack the human and material resources necessary to offer high-quality care.

Conclusions: Community-based family health education programs may increase parental knowledge of SCA and reduce some of the barriers to seeking care for their children. Additional SCA training for nurses and clinical officers will enable them to provider higher-quality preventive and therapeutic care.

Keywords: sickle cell anaemia; sickle cell disease; access to health care; health attitudes; sub-Saharan Africa




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