Haemophilia on the rise in Botswana

Medical Director at Global HOPE Botswana, Dr. Jeremy Slone has warned against the increasing risk of haemophilia in the country. He was speaking on the sidelines of an awareness camp held at Princess Marina Hospital (PMH) recently about the diagnosis, treatment methods and forms of rehabilitation available. The camp also focused on the importance of fitness and physical activity and changing the lifestyle of haemophilia patients, as well as the role of parents and how they can participate in achieving the required lifestyle and fitness for their children that suffer from bleeding disorders and haemophilia. Haemophilia is a lifelong blood clotting disorder that affects one in every 1,000 males around the world. Blood fails to clot normally because of a deficiency or an abnormality of one of the clotting factors, which can cause bleeding, especially in the muscles, joints, or internal organs.The two most common types are hemophilia A and B. “A person with haemophilia does not bleed more profusely or faster than normal, but bleeding may last longer,” Dr Slone explained. With over 50 registered cases of men suffering from haemophilia, Dr Slone said the number is definitely high. He said it was unfortunate that some of them do not receive enough or adequate treatment, or none at all. This is largely because patients are often unwilling or unable to give accurate family histories because the stigma associated with haemophilia encourages them to conceal the disorder. Without treatment, Dr Slone said the condition could cause crippling pain, severe joint damage, disability and even early death. Although there is no cure for haemophilia, there are effective treatments available, and with adequate care, haemophilia patients can live to an advanced age. The treatment, according to Dorcus Ramphaleng, a nurse and haemophilia care expert at PMH, largely depends on giving patients enough self-confidence that they can perform their daily activities to help them improve their fitness, strengthen their muscles, and reduce the deterioration of muscle function, giving them more freedom to go about their own lives without help and do more exercises. She said children with haemophilia should not be afraid to engage in sports. “They should improve their fitness and the health of their bones, avoid obesity and improve their quality of life.”