By Abigirl Tembo
As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the Invisible Disabilities Week, people suffering from a rare condition called hemophilia which results in excessive internal and external bleeding have called for more awareness on the disease to save lives.
Eliot is among the one in ten thousand people suffering from a rare condition called hemophilia, that affects the blood’s ability to clot.
In Zimbabwe, there are 175 documented cases of people struggling with this hereditary disease passed mainly from mother to son.
Internal and external bleeding over the years has resulted in Eliot enduring pain and stiffness around the joints, with his condition having advanced to severe hemophilia
“When I was young my parents did not understand the disease, I remember we visited lots of traditional healers and prophets as I would continuously bleed and pass bloody stool, this is still happening in many families because of lack of awareness,” said Eliot.
Mrs Trudy Nyakambangwe, a hemophilia carrier who lost her 18-month old son to the disease, says the need to spread awareness on this rare condition is imperative.
“Many people do not understand the disease. When my son was 18 months old he was given an immunisation injection which affected him. He suffered from internal bleeding and bruising and unfortunately passed away.”
Given that the disease is hereditary, Mrs Nyakambangwe’s nephew Munashe who is currently writing his advanced level examinations also suffers from the same ailment.
“I cannot even indulge in sport, the slightest injury will put me in bed for a week, look at my finger I don’t know what happened but its swollen and its painful I could not even write my exams properly.”
The Secretary General for Zimbabwe Hemophilia Association, Mr Fynn Machona bears testimony of the trials and tribulations that people with the ailment go through while trying to live a normal life.
“It is a tough life I live, I can’t do normal things, I can’t even lift a 20 litre container, even girls run away from me. Who would want a guy who can’t bend his knees?”
Hemophilia is incurable and hemophilics depend on the Antihemophilic factor eight drug to stop the bleeding but that is not the end of the story as the imported drug costs 300 US dollars per dose (a dose which only lasts for 8 hours).
Nose and gum bleeding, skin that bruises easily, pain and stiffness around joints, is a daily routine which hemophilics have to endure.