Coali­tion: 150,000 Nige­rian Chil­dren are Born With Sickle Cel Dis­ease Yearly

THISDAY - - NEWS - Mar­tins Ifi­jeh

As Philip Mor­ris In­ter­na­tional At least 150,000 chil­dren are born with sickle cell dis­ease in Nige­ria every year, while about 40 mil­lion Nige­ri­ans are healthy car­ri­ers of the sickle cell gene, the Coali­tion of Sickle Cell Non­govern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions in Nige­ria has said. They noted that Nige­ria has the big­gest bur­den of the scourge glob­ally, hence the need for in­creased ad­vo­cacy on its pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and man­age­ment.

Stat­ing this at a news con­fer­ence in La­gos re­cently to mark the 2018 World Sickle Cell Day, the Chair­man of the Coali­tion, Mrs. Toyin Ades­ola, said the high preva­lence rate of the dis­or­der is one rea­son gov­ern­ment at all lev­els must in­vest in ad­dress­ing it.

The coali­tion com­prises 13 NGOs in­clud­ing Sickle Cell Foun­da­tion of Nige­ria, Geno­type Foun­da­tion, Noah’s Ark Foun­da­tion, Tony May Foun­da­tion, among oth­ers.

Ades­ola said: “We are propos­ing that there should be more ad­vo­cacy and aware­ness con­cern­ing SCD and the is­sues sur­round­ing it, es­pe­cially in the ru­ral ar­eas. We want our lead­ers to in­vest more in reach­ing out and cre­at­ing more aware­ness about the con­di­tion.

“The high num­ber of car­ri­ers of the gene in Nige­ria (about 40 mil­lion) could amount to five African coun­tries. So it is some­thing we must give ut­most con­cern to,” she said.

She ex­plained that a long time, sickle cell has not been given much at­ten­tion, adding that it should be cat­e­gorised as a pub­lic health is­sue.

Ades­ola said the chal­lenges be­ing faced by peo­ple liv­ing with SCD in­clude stigma and mis­man­age­ment due to poverty, adding that peo­ple with SCD need proper care and man­age­ment, both men­tally and phys­i­cally, to sur­vive the con­di­tion.

“We need im­proved man­age­ment pro­cesses in­clud­ing es­tab­lish­ment of more sickle cell cen­tres, and ed­u­ca­tion of more doc­tors and nurses across the coun­try. Also, all fed­eral and state gov­ern­ment-owned hos­pi­tals should be prop­erly equipped to be able to man­age peo­ple liv­ing with sickle cell dis­ease,” she said.

Sickle cell ane­mia is an in­her­ited form of ane­mia - a con­di­tion in which there is not enough healthy red blood cells to carry ad­e­quate oxy­gen through­out the body.

Also speak­ing, the Direc­tor, Sickle Cell Foun­da­tion, Mrs. Ayo Otaigbe, said the dis­ease was not a death sen­tence, as per­sons liv­ing with it can lead nor­mal lives if con­di­tion is ad­e­quately man­aged.

She urged well-mean­ing Nige­ri­ans to sup­port the foun­da­tions by do­nat­ing to­wards the bet­ter­ment of af­fected per­sons.

She said: “Fund­ing is one ma­jor chal­lenge fac­ing the man­age­ment of SCD in Nige­ria. Our main goal is for them to live cri­sis-free lives as much as pos­si­ble, and be useful to the so­ci­ety and them­selves. We are also ad­vo­cat­ing that the gov­ern­ment should give sub­sidised treat­ment for peo­ple who can­not af­ford to pay their medical bills,” she added.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.