Knowledge gaps, attitude and beliefs of the communities about sickle cell disease in Eastern and Western Uganda
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Background: The management of sickle cell disease (SCD) has remained insurmountable in developing countries such as Uganda, because most communities are not aware of it. Objective: To determine knowledge gaps, attitudes and beliefs of the communities about sickle cell disease in Eastern and Western Uganda. Design: Cross sectional descriptive study. Setting: The districts of Sironko and Mbale in Eastern Uganda and Mbarara and Ntungamo in Western Uganda. Subjects: Households, students and health workers. Results: Household respondents from Eastern Uganda were more aware of SCD than those from Western (p<0.001), with the majority reporting that they had seen more people with SCD in their communities than those from the West (p<0.001). Fewer (<1.9%) believed SCD was due to witch craft. Eight per cent of household respondents in Eastern believed it was a curse from God compared to 2% in the West. Less than 18% of the household respondents knew they could have children with SCD and (<52%) of health workers knew SCD screening methods. Fewer (<14%) of the health workers had participated in screening. Less than 20% of the respondents knew their sickle cell status. Conclusion: Respondents from Eastern Uganda were more aware of SCD than those from Western. Minority of the respondents knew their SCD status and few health staff knew how to screen it. There is need to sensitise communities and policy makers about prevention, screening and treatment of SCD.