About 80 new cases of blood diseases, collectively known as Haemotology, are registered at King Faisal and Rwanda Military Hospital alone, per month—raising fears of high prevalence.
Haematologic diseases are disorders which primarily affect the blood, also known as blood diseases. The most common ones include anemia, myeloproliferative-neoplasm, hemophilia and chronic myeloid leukemia.
Dr Fabien Ntaganda, a Haematopathologist working with both hospitals, said people above 30 are the most vulnerable.
Ntaganda, who spoke during the launch of a new state of art laboratory equipment, Sysmex XN series, used for screening blood diseases, said there was need to sensitise people on some of the avoidable causes of Haematology.
“People have to abstain from habits like smoking if they are to stay safe from certain blood cancers like Myeloproliferative-Neoplasm,” he said.
Claude Muvunyi, a microbiologist and acting head of the National Reference Laboratory, said a study carried out between 2010 and 2011 on 400 patients revealed that half of them, also with HIV/Aids, were anemic.
“Anemia is common among HIV/Aids patients since the body is exposed to many more ailments as a result of a weakened immunity,” he explained, adding that most patients show up at hospitals when their condition has deteriorated.
“Whenever one notices symptoms like constant fatigue, sweating a lot at night and high fever, they should consider visiting a hospital immediately,” Muvunyi advised.
He added that there was need for at least one Haematologist in every referral hospital to deal with diagnosis. There are only three Haematologist in the country today.
“We have capacity to carry out examinations of certain blood cancers, but advanced ones are usually done abroad”.
“Treatment of certain blood cancers like chronic myeloid leukemia in countries like India costs between $5,000 and 10,000.”
Hussein Halake Roba, a microbiologist working with Pyramid Pharma, a firm that distributes medical consumables in East Africa, said Rwanda had gone a long way in investing against haematology diseases compared to other countries in the region.
“Much of the equipment is available, and at least every health centre in the country has a haematology analyser. However there is need to increase research funding into national reference laboratories, and enhance their capacity to diagnose various haematolgy cancers,” he said.