In a bid to reduce the mortality rate of sickle cell disorder in the country, the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria (SCFN) has called for more support for sufferers.This was made known by the chairman of the foundation, Prof Olu Akinyanju, during the Arik/SCFB forum held in Lagos recently.
According to him, Nigeria has the highest incidence rate of the disorder in the world with about 150,000 babies born yearly in the country with it. “One out of four Nigerians is a carrier, while one person in 12 Afro-Americans has the disorder,” he stated.
This, he said, makes it necessary for the country to be more proactive in tackling the scourge.
“Nigeria only has one sickle cell centre which was established in 1994. The centre is the only one in Africa presently, while United States alone, which has lesser number of carriers, has 21 sickle cell centres.”
He said of the needs for Nigeria to train doctors, nurses and medical laboratory scientists, among others, on the management of the condition.
Akinyanju said the capacity building would help to prevent wrong diagnosis and ensure proper treatment. “This will make them know when patients have serious crisis and the necessary steps to take.
“Even America which has low incidence rate of the disorder manages it better as the average lifespan of carriers is 60 years, while that of Nigeria is far below that.
He stated that sickle cell patients in the country could live longer if researches were done to help them.
The professor said people who have research proposals should come forward and present them to the research committee to look into it as this can help reduce the pain and ensure crisis is controlled.
Senior Vice President, Commercial, Arik, Mr Siva Ramachandran said the condition is as serious as HIV and AIDS and as such requires urgent attention.
He said his organisation has been carrying out sickle cell awareness on its flights to sensitize its customers on the need to support the foundation.
“We will continue to support the foundation strongly, especially with the Inflight scheme,” he assured.
Published: 02 Apr 2015. By Martins Ifijeh
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