NGO creates awareness on sickle cell disease

Rafat Salami, Abuja


A Non Governmental Organisation, the Hafeez Adeyemi Sickle Cell Foundation, says it will continue to spread awareness about sickle cell diseases especially in rural communities where awareness about the causes and management of the disease is low.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, Mr. Hafeez Adeyemi made the pledge when the group conducted an awareness programme in one of the IDP camps in Apo area of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Mr. Adeyemi said lack of information about the disease was fueling its prevalence, which is inherited when both parents have the traits, causing those who inherit the trait to have sickled red blood cells causing pain, anemia and other health conditions.

According to the NDHS (2018) report, it says 20 per cent of Nigerian children of between ages 6 and 59 months are living with sickle cell traits.

“We decided to start this outreach where the people have little or no resources of knowledge of this disease, sickle cell. The IDPs are part of the society. They shouldn’t be forgotten. Many of them don’t know what genotype is. They don’t know about compatibility and that is why we are here, to let them know who their compatible partner is when the result is out, ” Hafeez said.

He lamented that the dearth of testing facilities especially for newborns, despite government policy on universal newborn screening introduced in 2011, means that many  affected children are missing out on early care therefore exposed to undue hardship.

Hafeez disclosed that the foundation would be following up on two children who appear to have the disease.

The last time we came here I noticed about two sickle cell warriors, we are following up on them and once laboratory tests confirm our suspicion, we shall bring both of them under our care so that they can live quality lives.”

The residents of the Malaysian Garden Internally Displaced Persons camp in Apo area of the Federal Capital Territory commended the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Hafeez Adeyemi Sickle Cell Foundation, for the health outreach the foundation brought to the doorsteps of the residents.

“I want to commend them greatly for this gesture. We are really happy. For them to remember that we are here is of great happiness to us. It shows that there are people who still have us in mind and cater for us in different ways…”, Chakune said.

Sickle Cell Disease

With sickle cell disease, an inherited group of disorders, red blood cells contort into a sickle shape. The cells die early, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells (sickle cell anaemia) and can block blood flow causing pain (sickle cell crisis).

Infections, pain and fatigue are symptoms of sickle cell disease.

Treatments include medication, blood transfusions and rarely a bone-marrow transplant.

According to the WHO,“approximately 5% of the world’s population carries trait genes for haemoglobin disorders, mainly, sickle-cell disease and thalassaemia…over 300,000 babies with severe haemoglobin disorders are born each year”.

The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) report 2018, “estimated that approximately 24% of Nigerians have SCT (Federal Ministry of Health 2015a). … SCD can be as high as 2% (Federal Ministry of Health 2015a). According to this estimation, over 3.4 million Nigerians currently have SCD.”

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