18 June 2016
Nigeria carries the highest burden of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) worldwide with the disease affecting more than four million individuals, Professor Adeyinka Falusi, President of the Sickle Cell Hope Alive Foundation (SCHAF), said in Ibadan on Saturday.
She said more than 40 million Nigerian parents were also capable of transmitting Sickle Cell to their children.
SCD is a chronic, challenging and sometimes disabling disease in Nigeria with devastating complications like severe pain crises, anaemia, stroke, priapism and severe leg ulcers.
“Currently, the only possible cure is bone marrow or stem cell transplantation, which is extremely expensive, highly specialised and not performed in Nigeria,’’ Falusi, a professor of haematology said.
She called on the Nigerian government to formally recognise the World Sickle Cell Day (WSCD) which is marked annually on June 19.
This, it said, would help to actualise the goals of reducing the burden of sickle cell disease in the country.
Falusi stressed that Nigeria needed to affirm its position in subduing the disease, which was responsible for the death of over 60 per cent of the 150,000 babies born with it annually.
According to her, government’s priority should be geared towards a preventive approach through all local government areas across the federation.
“Local governments should forge collaboration with NYSC as part of efforts to promote awareness and education on a preventive approach to the disease.
“The NYSC is a tool for change of SCD programme in Nigeria since they are able to reach all nooks and crannies and spread the word in the language of the people,’’ she said.
In 2008, the UN declared June 19 every year as World Sickle Cell Day to commemorate the day that the General Assembly recognised sickle cell disease as a public health priority.