40 Million Nigerians Living With Sickle Cell, May Become Epidemic If? – Onolememen
By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
As part of effort to reduce the increasing spate of a killer disease, caused by a genetic blood disorder that is silently affecting many families in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, Sickle Cell Society Ireland ( SCSI, Sickle Cell Awareness Initiative Nigerian-Ireland (SCAIIN) and Sickle Cell Patients Health Promotion Centre (SCPHPC), Kaduna State, on Friday kick-start a campaign to create awareness to help members of the society.
Speaking at the event, Esther Pepple Onolememen, founder, Sickle Cell Awareness Initiative Nigerian-Ireland, revealed that over 40 million, Nigerians are directly affected by sickle Cell anaemia, and about 300,000 births of carriers are recorded every year.
She added that, over 25 percent of adults in Nigeria have the traits of sickle Cell, while Infant Mortality rate is about 8 percent, and annual growth rate at 3.2 percent.
Onolememen, disclosed that if care is not taken, Sickle Cell might become an epidemic, saying “the percentage of people living with sickle cell in Nigeria is high, if you look at it statistically is high and if you project the next ten years more than half of Nigeria’s population will be affected.
“If 40 million Nigerians are affected by sickle Cell as at now that we about 170 million, that’s huge and if you look at the number of birth each year of carriers almost 300,000, what does that tell you?
“Meaning in the next three years alone we would have about 900,000 birth of carriers adding to the 40 million, you find that sickle cell will gradually become an epidemic in Nigeria if there are no response.”
According to her, the only way to reduce the menace now is for everyone; government, organisations, individuals and the community to come together and understand that sickle matter is a campaign that advocates for improved healthcare, improved research, improved family support, and improved education and awareness.
Also speaking with journalists, Coordinator and founder, Sickle Cell Patients Health Promotion Centre, Kaduna State, Hajiya. Badiya Magaji Inuwa, noted that the besr antidote to sickle cell is awareness.
She appealed to governments at all levels to invest in awareness and research that will help the public to understand the courses of sickle cell because that is the only way it can be reduced or eliminated.
”Research and findings has shown that the antidote to sickle cell anaemia is not in the medical laboratories, but it is in the simple education and enlightenment of our people to do the right thing before marriage.
“If we all follow this simple rule of knowing our genotype before marriage and abiding to it, the occurrence of sickle cell anaemia will be significantly reduced to a small percentage of what it is now or maybe even eliminate altogether by 2080.”
She expressed disappointment over the way the people are turning deaf ear to this simple solution that inadvertently saves the future of their children on the pretense of ’love’.
“I do not see love in any affair that knowingly or carelessly produces children sentenced to a life of suffering. Such relationships are built on ignorance, greed and selfishness.” She said.
According to Hajiya. Badiya, her clinic has admitted over 3000 sickle cell patients in the last ten years and that the menace is increasing on a daily basis, adding that, “SCPHPC,based in Kaduna, supports indigent sickle cell sufferers with free routine drugs, and counselling services.”
She also, appealed to the state ministries of education to incorporate aspects of sickle cell knowledge into school curriculums to enable students understand the basic of sickle Cell disease.