NGOs call for more advocacy, awareness on sickle cell disorder

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A Coalition of Sickle Cell Non-governmental Organisations in Nigeria has called for more advocacy and awareness about Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) to reduce its scourge in the country.

The Chairman of the coalition, Mrs Toyin Adesola, made the call at a news conference in Lagos in commemoration of the World Sickle Cell Day marked annually on June 19.

The coalition comprises about 13 NGOs including Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria.

According to Wikipaedia, a free encyclopedia, Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from a person’s parents.

Sickle-cell disease occurs when a person inherits two abnormal copies of the haemoglobin gene, one from each parent.

“The most common type is known as sickle-cell anaemia and results in an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying protein haemoglobin found in red blood cells.’’

Mrs Adesola said: “We are proposing that there should be more advocacy and awareness concerning SCD and the issues surrounding it, especially in the rural areas.

“We want government at all levels to invest more in reaching out and create more awareness about the condition.“

She urged the governments to allocate more funds into creating awareness about SCD.

According to her, over 40 million Nigerians are healthy carriers of the sickle cell gene; consequently, no fewer than 150,000 Nigerian children are born each year with SCD.

For so long, sickle cell has not been given much attention.

“There are issues that both the public and private sectors should address, because SCD is becoming a public health issue.

“Nigeria has the highest numbers of people with the condition; so, coming together as a coalition will give us a greater voice to be heard,’’ Mrs Adesola added.

She said that the challenges being faced by people living with SCD include stigma and mismanagement due to poverty.

Mrs Adesola noted, that people with SCD need proper care and management, both mentally and physically, to survive the condition.

We need more management processes including establishment of more sickle cell centres, education of more doctors and nurses across the country.

“Also, all Federal and State Government-owned hospitals should be properly equipped to be able to manage people living with SCD,“ she said.

Also, the Director, Sickle Cell Foundation, Mrs Ayo Otaigbe, urged well-meaning Nigerians to support the foundation by donating toward the betterment of people living with SCD.

Mrs Otaigbe said, “Funding is one major challenge facing the management of SCD in Nigeria.

“People should donate to the foundation so that it can do more for people with SCD, Our main goal is for them to live crisis-free lives as much as possible and be useful to the society and themselves.

“We are also advocating that the government should give subsidised treatment for people who cannot afford to pay their medical bills”, she added.

In his remarks, the Head, Human Resources Recruitment, Fidelity Bank, Mr Chris Nnakwe, said that the bank would support the coalition to create more awareness about SCD.

according to him,the unique thing about supporting the  awareness of SCD is that we are doing it because it is the right thing to do.

This is a step in the right direction and we want to keep doing this, “We are also committed to doing this annually, because we know that it will go a long way to creating more awareness among Nigerians,“ Mr Nnakwe added.

Hauwa Mustapha