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New sickle cell clinic.

SICKLE cell patients in Bahrain are set to benefit from a special follow-up clinic that will open soon.

The decision to establish a weekly facility was made following a meeting between Health Minister Sadiq Al Shehabi and Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Anaemia Patient Care officials.

The clinic will follow-up with patients who have been discharged after treatment at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) to determine their present state of health, said society chairman Zakareya Ebrahim Al Kadhem.

"Though we have been demanding special facilities for sickle cell patients on a daily basis, we have now agreed for this weekly clinic as a first step towards augmenting facilities," he told the GDN.

"We also briefed the minister on the present situation with regard to sickle cell patients and their alleged step-motherly treatment at health centres and SMC.

"The minister agreed sickle cell patients would receive the utmost care at the country's medical facilities and enjoy better privileges.

"It was also agreed to ensure everyone concerned was following a set protocol for sickle cell patients."

Mr Al Kadhem said the minister was made aware that sickle cell patients were being treated as drug addicts just because they needed morphine to ease their pain.

"He gave us a sympathetic hearing and assured all possible help in looking after us better," he said.

Speaking during the meeting, Mr Al Shehabi said instructions had been issued to all SMC officials to ensure the required medicines were provided to sickle cell patients and they were given priority.

"The patients should also co-operate with the authorities and not rush to the SMC immediately," said Mr Al Kadhem. "This will reduce the load on doctors, who can then concentrate on critical care patients."

Campaigners have been for years demanding better facilities, more accountability and better treatment for sickle cell patients.

Seven sickle cell patients have died so far this year and 31 last year.

It has been claimed that a large majority of them died as a result of negligence by SMC doctors and staff and also due to a critical bed shortage at the hospital.

The GDN earlier reported a BD2.5 million blood disease centre at SMC could be up and running early next year.

The 90-bed facility will treat all patients with blood diseases, but will be of particular help for those suffering from sickle cell disease.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Apr 30, 2012
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