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Sickle Cell Warriors in Cameroon Still Face Dangerous Prejudices and Labeling

May 28, 2018 by Andrea

Photo for illustrative purposes only

We talk about the stigmatization of sickle cell here in the U.S., especially when it comes to doctors using biased language in their patient notes, which can affect the quality of a person's healthcare long-term. But in some countries, such as Cameroon, such stigma can lead to death.

As reported by Reuters, many people in Cameroon still hold the belief that children with sickle cell are actually witches or sorcerers who's mission is to destroy the families they were born into. Some are abandoned by their parents, some are purposefully neglected, and, in extreme cases, some are killed. One woman interviewed for the Reuters article describes suffocating her 5-year-old son last year because she was told his illness was mystical and would ruin her life. "I killed my child because he was going to die anyway," she told the news service. "Before, he was suffering greatly. Now, he is at peace."

This isn't a new development for the country, but since this belief still persists, a lot more must be done to raise awareness and educate communities there, especially since Cameroon has a population of about 400,000 sickle cell warriors. In past years, Cameroon health officials have encouraged genotype testing before marriage and offered some free or reduced treatment costs. However, those living there with SCD now feel that to truly have a chance at ending this disease, genotype tests should be free -- and mandatory.

You, too, can help sickle cell warriors living in Cameroon. Perhaps, in honor of the upcoming World Sickle Cell Day, you can donate to help equip a sickle cell lab in Cameroon via GlobalGiving.

Read the full article here.

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