“I can die today, I can die tomorrow”: Lay perceptions of sickle cell disease in Kumasi, Ghana at a point of transition.
Objective. To describe the lay meanings of sickle cell disease (SCD) in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Design. Depth interviews with 31 fathers of people with SCD; a focus group with health professionals associated with the newborn sickle cell screening programme, and a focus group with mothers of children with SCD. Results. Whilst there are discourses that associate sickle cell with early or recurrent death, with supernatural undermining of family well-being, and with economic challenges in purchasing medical care, other discourses that value children and other family practices that resist stigma are also in evidence. Conclusion. Lay perspectives on SCD are constructed in the contexts of enduring culture (the high value placed on children); changing culture (medicine and research as available alternative discourses to supernatural ones); altered material circumstances (newborn screening producing cohorts of children with SCD); changing political situations (insurance-based treatment); enhanced family resources (the experience of a cohort of young people with SCD). Above all the praxis of successfully caring for a child with SCD, and the political experience of sharing that praxis, stands in opposition to discourses of death and helps parents resist stigma and despair.
Open Access Article can be found by following the DOI
Citation : Dennis-Antwi, J.A., Culley, L., Hiles, D. and Dyson, S.M. (2011) “I can die today, I can die tomorrow”: Lay perceptions of sickle cell disease in Kumasi, Ghana at a point of transition. Ethnicity and Health, 16 (4-5) pp. 465-481.
ISSN : 1355-7858
Research Group : Unit for the Social Study of Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell
Research Institute : Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research
Peer Reviewed : Yes