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Government of Jamaica

NHF highlights provisions for Sickle Cell Disease ahead of World Sickle Cell Awareness Day on June 19

The National Health Fund (NHF) is emphasizing its support for persons living with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) ahead of World Sickle Cell Awareness Day observed annually on June 19.

The NHF is partnering with the Sickle Cell Unit, Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR), UWI in their week of activities (June 13-17) to raise awareness about the disease and to encourage persons living with the condition to apply for the NHFCard.

Interim Director at the Sickle Cell Unit, CAIHR Dr. Nicki Chin says support from the NHF and other organisations goes a long way in helping them provide medical and life support to their patients.

“The Sickle Cell Unit helps with the healthcare management of persons with Sickle Cell Disease. Unfortunately, a number of our patients are unable to afford what they need. The NHF then is integral in providing access to pharmaceuticals that improve their quality of life,” Dr Chin added.

Sickle Cell Disease is one of the 17 conditions covered by the NHFCard Programme and in the last financial year, the NHF paid 4.5 million dollars in claims for drugs used to treat the condition. Enrolled beneficiaries presently receive subsidies on 32 drug items used to treat the condition. Last year NHF added 7  items – Diosmin and Hesperidin Tablets, Ketanserin Gel, Zinc Hyaluronate Gel, Amoxicillin & Clavulanic acid, Azithromycin, Folic Acid and Mupirocin Ointment.

There are presently 2,440 Sickle Cell beneficiaries of the NHFCard programme – 1,401 females and 1,039 males – with 1,897 (78%) being 19 years and older.

“Sickle Cell Disease like any other lifelong illness comes with a great deal of out-of-pocket expenses. As an organization with a goal of reducing the financial burden of health care for Jamaican residents living with chronic diseases, we are serious about our responsibility to offer support to those who are affected by this genetic condition. The NHF’s contribution helps to ease the financial strain on patients and positively impacts their quality of life,” Chief Executive Officer Everton Anderson.

Of note, patients who are seen at the Sickle Cell Unit, UWI and receive prescriptions there may also visit the NHF’s Drug Serv pharmacies across the island to access their medications on the Government’s Vital Essential and Necessary (VEN) list free of charge.

Fifteen per cent of Jamaicans are carriers of the SCD gene. One in every 150 persons has the disease and one in every 10 persons has the trait thus making Sickle Cell Disease a common genetic disorder in Jamaica. 

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