Consultant Haematologist, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, Dr Waziri Dahiru, has called on the Federal government to establish bone marrow transplant centres in six geo-political zones of the country.
Dr Dahiru made the appeal during the sideline of World Sickle Cell Day celebration held at the Kaduna State University (KADSSU) main campus.
Reports said that the programme was jointly organised by Safiyya Sickle Cell Foundation, Sickle Cell Cohost Research (SCORE) and KADSSU.
Dr Dahiru said h e call was necessary in view of the prevailing rate of the disease among Nigerians couple with high cost of managing it.
“Bone marrow transplant is a form of treatment for patients with sickle cell anaemia and it has been in existence for a very long time.
“It is new in the country and as I am speaking, currently Professor Bazuaye in Benin is actually doing the transplantation for the sickle cell patients.
“There are lot of challenges which we believe government should come-in, and most importantly if such centres would be established in all the six geo-political zones, it will greatly assist.
“This is to ensure that there is a centre for individuals who require transplant for them to be properly managed,” he said.
He however noted, that it was not all sickle cell patients that actually require the transplant, saying that some needed only drugs to increase epical haemoglobin levels towards aiding delivery of blood and oxygen.
In her contribution, Hajiya Bilkisu Aminu, President, Safiyya Sickle Cell Foundation, said: “19 June every year is a day set aside by the United Nations and is being celebrated worldwide.
“It is a day where we celebrate persons living with sickle cell and also try to create awareness on sickle cell disorder in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
“In as much as we are doing awareness campaigns by the day, it seems that we are not doing enough and a lot need to done, because it seems the awareness doesn’t reach the right people,” she said.
While applauding the Kaduna State Government for enacting genotype test law before couple get married, Aminu suggested that the law should go further to prevent marriages in the event of unfavorable results.
“Really, there is a law insisting that couples should do a genotype test before marriage, but where the problem is, despite doing a test, it doesn’t stop some from getting married, so you have a counter effect.
“After the genotype test, nobody says no, don’t get married, it all depends on you to take the right decision. Despite the fact that there is policy in place, there is no enforcement.
“If you are AS and your partner too is AS, you are not supposed to get married and if you do, you are sanctioned after getting married.
“I think the policy needs to be improved to get the desired results,” she said.
Ms Jirap Diwang from SCORE also said that the organisation was founded in September 2013 to introduce new bone screening to Nigeria.
“One of the main aims of the foundation is to start bone screening; we are very particular about that because a lot of people feel that it is not an issue to have both parents with SS or carriers of sickle cells anaemia.
“Some feel that it is not necessary to do genotype test before getting married and having kids, even if both of you are AA and you want to do it is fine.
“We are advocating that the screening should be done for children at birth, so that people will know the genotype of their children very early and prepare themselves,” she said.