Nigeria has probably the highest rate of Sickle Cell Disease in the world and researches have shown that at least 150,000 babies are born with the disease every year;of that 150,000, another 100,000 infants die annually from the disease.. As a result of these statistics, more and more youth are being urged to know the genotype of their intended spouses before marriage. One of four Nigerians is born with the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT), hence the need for sensitization on the disease in regards to its consequences and care before marriage and having children.
Each year, along with the rest of the world, Nigerians observe World Sickle Cell Awareness Day on the 19th of June to help increase public knowledge and raise awareness for the struggles that the sufferers and their families go through. It is sad however, that there is still poor utilization of standard care practices for the disease in the country.
Across medical institutions, almost all the health care establishments administer folic acid and malaria prophylaxis in terms of care while a few others administer penicillin and hydroxyurea as treatment. Yet there is an alarming lack of modern medical facilities/equipment to help improve the quality of life for sicklers; facilities like functioning molecular biology labs and other advanced equipment required to perform sensitive surgical procedures like stem cell transplants. Also lacking are individual courses of treatment such as Sickle Cell education, psychosocial support services and counselling for children and their families.
While there is no available cure for SCD, there have been recent advancements in research to help treat symptoms and complications and because of this improved treatment and care, people who have SCD are now able to live into their 50s and even longer. In Nigeria, while there is still much work to be done in terms of care and treatment, efforts are being made to make otherwise expensive overseas treatment locally available and the government is doing its best to make funds available to public hospitals and treatment centres to send people from poor homes abroad to countries like Italy to receive life saving treatment. There is more that could be done because as it is, it is only the Sickle Cell Foundation in Nigeria that is spearheading the call for the cure of Sickle Cell Disease. The government needs to have policies in place as a preventive of the case and create nation wide sickle cell clubs and clinics to give sufferers the most up to date medical and psychological treatment they need.
Individuals and families can not do this alone, government needs to be actively involved in preserving the lives of its citizens who suffer from this disease. If diseases like cancer can be treated with those affected going on to live long and healthy lives because of available treatment in advanced countries like the U.S and the U.K, then sickle cell sufferers deserve to have the same hope because they know their government has provided all of the treatments available with well trained medical personnel armed with the most up to date information and skills to give them such confidence. If this was the case, there wouldn't be so many children dying before the age of 5, young people could marry without fear and sicklers could bank on living fulfilling lives. I believe that this is doable if everyone got involved and participated in giving our brothers and sisters the assurance of living long, full and rewarding lives.
Thank you for stopping by as always..until Thursday..