Sickle cell support group joins with education ministry to place teachers' guides in schools

Friday, September 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Sickle Cell Support Foundation of Jamaica (SCSFJ) in celebrating its 26 year, has embarked on a partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to distribute a recently updated Teacher's Guide to Sickle Cell Disease in all public primary and secondary schools across the island.

The guide was initially released in 1994 but was revised and updated with new information and strategies in 2017.

According to the SCSFJ, sickle cell disease is most severe during childhood and results in frequent absences from school due to illness and hospitalisations causing many patients to fall behind in their studies and not sit school-leaving CSEC or GCE examinations.

“Some even drop out prematurely as their parents think they are so behind they are unable to catch up. Also because many parents expect or have been told that their children will die at an early age they tend to invest more in the education of other children who do not have the condition,” the group said in a statement.

The group added that there is a high rate of poverty in the adult sickle cell population in Jamaica as many lack qualification, are unskilled and unable to find jobs.

“These people are unable to cover their medical costs as they cannot afford health insurance. The free healthcare policy of the government does not extend to patients of the Sickle Cell Unit at University Hospital. So they are unable to fill prescriptions at government pharmacies or access X-rays and other diagnostic tests”.

SCSFJ hopes that the guide will educate principals, teachers and guidance counsellors about how the disease should be managed at school and the kinds of support affected students need in order to improve the educational performance of sickle cell patients across the island.

September is being celebrated as awareness month under the theme "Sickle Cell Disease: Empowerment through Education" and in addition to the roll-out of the partnership with the education ministry, a series of educational talks in high schools will be held throughout the month, thefoundationsaid.

SCSFJ is a non-profit, voluntary organisation founded by two sickle cell patients in October 1992 (formerly the Sickle Cell Support Club).

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