The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
HAEMOPHILIA patients in the country are in a catch 22 situation as they have to deal with the high costs of diagnosis tests and accessing medication especially in remote areas.
Haemophilia is a hereditary bleeding disorder which prevents the blood from forming an effective clot meaning one can bleed for long periods. Zimbabwe Haemophilia Association president Mr Tinashe Chimanikire told the Sunday News that most patients were finding it difficult to meet the cost of diagnosis.
“It is costly to go for the actual diagnosis of haemophilia when we suspect that one has the condition. Many people cannot afford the costs such that they do not access treatment,” he said.
Mr Chimanikire said the tests cost at least $200 and are carried out in South Africa as there are no equipped laboratories locally to carry out the procedure.
“Just a few tests can be done locally but 75 percent of them are done in South Africa. Patients only get blood samples in local laboratories and these are sent to the neighbouring country,” he said.
According to Mr Chimanikire, treatment for haemophilia is effective. A haemophiliac needs to replace the missing clotting factors when a bleeding episode occurs. The missing clotting factor is then injected into the bloodstream through infusion/injection into the blood stream through a process called replacement therapy. Bleeding stops when enough clotting factor reaches the spot that is bleeding and it should be encouraged to treat the bleeding as soon as it occurs.
Anti-haemophilic factor eight and nine injections are available at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and National Blood Services Zimbabwe branches. The association said there were an estimated 500 people living with the condition in Zimbabwe but just 143 are registered in the ZHA database. There is also limited access to information about the condition in remote areas, so some people live with the condition unknowingly and do not get access to free medication.
The association is stepping up efforts to have awareness campaigns of the condition so that people come forward and get assistance. Haemophilia is a rare disease. About one person in every 10 000 people is born with haemophilia.
Haemophilia mainly affects males while females are predominantly carriers of the defective gene, although occasionally, female bleeders may be found. Haemophilia may cause spontaneous bleeding in joints, tissues, muscles and organs, these are called internal bleeds. If not properly treated it may result in permanent joint deformities, muscle wastage and arthritis.