By Melanius Alphonse
Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- The Caribbean Organization of Sickle Cell Associations (COSCA), with the Saint Lucia Sickle Cell Association, the Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association, and the University of the West Indies Medical School (Cave Hill), will be hosting the eighth Caribbean Sickle Cell Conference in Saint Lucia from October 26 to 28, 2012, at the Bay Gardens Hotel.
In attendance will be medical practitioners, government representatives, sickle cell patients and support personnel from the region and internationally. Speakers will come from Canada, the United States, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Saint Lucia.
Several topics will be discussed, including the prevention of sickle cell disease, research on bone marrow transplant, stroke prevention and management, the socio- economic and policy impact of sickle cell disease (SCD), the Sick Kids Caribbean haematology-oncology outreach programme, Caribbean sickle cell experience, pain management, ethical dilemmas and social issues.
Presentations will include improvements in the care of a child with SCD, challenges in the care of the adult patient with SCD and hydroxeura urea, among others.
Sometimes it seems like all is lost. But while it’s important to understand what sickle cell leads to, it is equally important to appreciate the implications from the aspect of the socio economic and policy impact of SCD.
At the end of the day, it’s a strategy for developing, managing and strengthening processes, the institutions, and communities for better delivery of service and care that matters.
For the ability to leverage greater value and generate efficiencies, one such presentation will make the case from the socio-economic and policy impact for “the allocation of financial and human resource capital, geared towards research and clinical programs for SCD and the challenges towards economic output, academic success and career options for SCD patients.”
This will include “SCD patients medical conditions, that demand special care and frequent use of health services and equipment, and the reason why a heightened state of readiness, throughout the natural life of patients are vital.”
Notwithstanding the risk, a case will be made for “the continual national screening program, including premarital and genetic counseling, aggressive outreach and information dissemination to prohibit the increase of both SCD and other chronic diseases among the population.”
It’s no secret that patients now have a considerable longer life expectancy. As such, there is a growing need for medical and life insurance for SCD patients, and employment opportunities through entrepreneurship to encourage participation and contribution to the economic mix.
In the case of Saint Lucia, arguments will be framed for universal health care (UHC) to pilot incentives to health care providers to help lower delivery cost and take part in the global structure to help solve humanity’s chronic neglected diseases and, by the same token, there is need to lobby policy and decision makers for a social safety net via the implementation of an exemption policy for patients and families with SCD and other chronic diseases.
These targeted exemptions would serve best on pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, personal care supplies and equipment, medical clothing, educational supplies and nutrition aid for newborns and mothers. And, in view of the fact that SCD causes frequent “sickle cell crisis” that requires frequent medical consultation, now is the time for policy- and decision-makers to show true compassion and socio economic social justice buoyancy, that will positively impact the lives of SCD patients, their families and the general public.
There are various models and different perspectives but the opportunity exists now at the eight Caribbean Sickle Cell Conference for the policy- and decision-makers to act with purpose and make a commitment to free SCD patients and their families from their pain and hardship.
The conference is expected to live up to its usual high value components and powerful, well-connected personalities.
Congratulations to the Sickle Cell Association of Saint Lucia, their contributors, supporters, and volunteers, through the leadership of a splendid humanitarian in the person of Paula Calderon, on the celebration of their 25th anniversary of dedication, sacrifice and service above self to mankind.