G6PD Deficiency; the Medical Condition that can Silently Kill 15-26% of Ghanaians

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World Health Organization in 2016 estimated that the prevalence of G6PD deficiency to be between 15% and 26% of our general population. Have you realized there are some things that never gets talked about till it causes a havoc?

G6PD deficiency happens to be one of them. This deficiency was not talked about till in November 2016 when 23-year old Marie Annan was speculated to have died of it. The earlier you know about it, the better.

Glucose 6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that leads to the production of glutathione, a chemical which gets rid of free radicals (substances which damage red blood cells) to prevent haemolytic anaemia (condition in which red blood cells are destroyed before their normal lifespan). People with the deficiency either have a part of the enzyme, or none at all.

However, people with the deficiency don’t walk around feeling diseased. Rather, when they undergo oxidative stress, stress or when they’re exposed to fava beans, get an infection or take in some drugs such as the ‘quines’ i.e. quinine, pamaquine, chloroquine, aspirin, etc.

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The G6PD gene G6PD gene, is located near the telomeric region of the long arm of the X chromosome (Xq28)

The G6PD gene is located on the sex-linked X chromosome. A chromosome carries genetic or hereditary information. Men have XY chromosome. Women have XX chromosome. When a female inherits the deficiency, because she has two X chromosomes, she may have it on only one X chromosome, but the other X chromosome may have the G6PD enzyme. If this happens, enough G6PD may be produced, hence the symptoms of the deficiency won’t show. However, in some females, they may not have G6PD at all.

Because men have only one X chromosome and that’s the one G6PD is found, when they inherit the deficiency, there’s no other chromosome to compensate, since G6PD can’t form on the remaining Y chromosome. Hence, men who have the deficiency always have a full deficiency, meaning they can’t produce G6PD at all.

People with G6PD deficiency suffer from drug-induced anaemia, haemolytic anaemia and neonate (baby) jaundice, which if not immediately treated may lead to death.

It is important to check your G6PD status since you’ll only need to do it just once in your life. To know your G6PD status, kindly contact +233540666781.

This article was written by Joseph Ofori, a professional Medical Laboratory Scientist.

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