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Special sickle cell facility sought in Bahrain.

Bahrain MPs have renewed calls for a fully operational 24-hour facility to treat sickle cell patients, following the death of seven patients in less than two weeks.

Campaigners have blamed authorities for ignoring patients and providing inefficient treatment. The patients can only seek treatment at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), they said.

Health Ministry officials earlier accused sickle cell patients of causing chaos at Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo Community Centre, saying they had been caught trafficking drugs and sleeping pills, indulging in inappropriate behaviour with women and injecting themselves with illegally procured painkillers.

Some were also accused of damaging property, refusing to adhere to hospital rules, going missing from the facility only to return at will and endangering themselves and the lives of others.

However, MPs say having a negative attitude towards these patients will not solve the sickle cell crisis the country is currently going through.

"Who likes to go to the hospital and then be treated like addicts?" questioned MP Ali Shamtoot, who is also a sickle cell patient. "There are no specialised haematologists and doctors to deal with sickle cell patients. This is one of the reasons the ministry is now seeking assistance from US experts to help them deal with this big issue."

He was speaking at a Press conference yesterday held at the parliament building in Hoora along with the Bahrain Bloc members.

Separate ID cards

Campaigners have also urged authorities to back an initiative to provide sickle cell patients with special identity cards to help them get preferential treatment at health centres.

The move is part of efforts to help patients get better and prompt services in the country, but it has not been well received by the Health Ministry, said Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Anaemia Patients Care member Samah Hussain.

The cards would have details of a patient, including blood type, CPR information and other health- related details.

"We understand that patients' records are stored electronically, but what if the system is down in the hospital," she said. "This card can be carried at all times by sickle cell patients and allows a doctor to know about their health condition. In emergency cases, this card which is similar in size like a smart card will be useful and could save lives."

According to ministry figures, 18,000 sickle cell patients receive treatment at Salmaniya Medical Complex, said Hussain.

"The total number of carriers of the disease excluding those being treated according to us is about 65,000," she added. "There is no study or survey done to actually find out the number of people living in Bahrain with sickle cell anaemia."

She added that the society was campaigning to introduce a draft law in Bahrain on patient rights which has been prepared by Cyprus-based Thalassaemia International Federation. -- TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Jul 10, 2012
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