Tuesday 17th April 2018 was World Haemophilia Day observed with focus on the theme, ‘Sharing Knowledge makes us Stronger’.
Cameroon which observed the day alongside the international community opted for a series of information and sensitisation exercises. The different health teams deployed in different regions had the same story to tell.
Haemophilia is an inherited rare disease which affects the clotting of blood. The male sex is more vulnerable to it.
Haemophilia is caused by the lack of certain blood clotting proteins known as clotting factors.
People with this disease tend to bleed longer than those whose blood clots normally.
Dr Chancelline Alunge, a medical doctor in Buea discusses the two types of Haemophilia: Haemophilia A and Haemophilia B.
“Haemophilia A is due to lack of Factor VIII and Haeomophiloa B due to lack of Factor IX,” she explains.
Signs and Symptoms
Dr Chancelline Alunge explains that recurrent bleeding even from minimal trauma is a common sign of haemophilia and usually noticed in children around the first year of life when they start becoming more active.
Dr Christie Linonge of the Mada Hospital in the Far North Region goes further by explaning that, “Diagnosis is usually in the first year of life where parents complain that their babies have swollen and tender knees due to bruises as they crawl.”
She also says many realise they are victims only when they bleed a lot during a surgical procedure.
“Signs and symptoms however vary depending on level of deficiency of blood clotting factors, ” Dr Christie Linonge explains. “If the level is mildly reduced, then the patient may only bleed after traumatic experience or surgery but if severe, the patient may experience spontaneous bleeding.
Other symptoms include: unusual bleeding after vacinnations or dental treatment, pains, swelling and tightness around joints, nose bleeding without a known cause and blood in urine or stool.
Bleeding in the brain could also occur following mild trauma in the head. Such bleeding, Dr Christie says is usually charaterised by painful prolonged headaches, repeated vomitting, convulsion and seizures.
Such internal bleeding is risky as it could damage internal organs.
Severe haemophilia, medics say could be controlled by Replacement Therapy which means replacing the specific clotting factor which the patient lacks.
“Circumcision in children with haemophilia could be postponed, vaccines are given with very small needle gauges to minimise trauma. We also avoid giving them drugs which increase the risk of bleeding like NSAIDs and others. Moreover we encourage proper dental hygiene to prevent dental infections which could predispose them to bleeding,” Dr Chancelline Alunge explains.
It is also worth mentioning that haemophilia cannot be transmitted from one person to another since it is acquired from birth.