Leg ulceration, Acute Chest Syndrome (ACS) and stroke are endemic in people with Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD), the Chairman of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria (SCFN), Professor Olu Akinyaju, has said.
Professor Akinyanju disclosed this at a public lecture to commemorate the 2015 World Sickle Cell Day in Lagos with the theme: Life Saving Measures.
Akinyanju said, “People with SCD need to be careful and always go for checks to prevent the occurrence of Leg ulceration, ACS and stroke. About 1 in 14 children with sickle cell anaemia have a high risk of developing strokes (overt or silent). This debilitating complication can impede their mobility and/or impair their intellectual ability.
“Leg ulceration usually occurs between the ages of 12 and 45 years, it is predominant in males and does not heal quickly. However, research is ongoing on a better management for it, especially on the use of umbilical cord platelet cells to make SCD related ulcers heal faster,” Akinyanju said.
The don urged people with SCD to do the Transcranial Doppler (TCD) test to detect the onset and likelihood of having strokes. Explaining further, he said stem cell or bone marrow transplant, the only known cure for SCD would soon be available in Lagos and the procedure would be available to only people between the ages of two and sixteen years.
Also speaking at the lecture, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, DrModeleOsunkiyesi said, Lagos State Government has developed treatment guidelines for the better management of the disorder. Dr Osunkiyesi who was represented the Director, Disease Control, Dr Eniola Erinosho, said, “We collaborate with the foundation as they have been carrying out a lot of initiatives on SCD in the country.
“With the support of the Sickle Cell Centre, I am sure we have better measures now in the country for the management of SCD. On our part as government, we have developed a treatment guideline for the management of SCD in Lagos. We are also in the process of establishing a policy on SCD and management; the main thrust of that policy is to ensure that the state government creates enabling environment for public campaign and social sensitisation.”
A Consultant Haematologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, DrAdewunmiAdediran, described SCD as an inherited condition that is characterised by diseased haemoglobin.
“Haemoglobin is the pigment of the red cell that carries oxygen from blood to tissues. When this inherited condition occurs, the person hashaemoglobin that is not able to function properly. What it does is to sickle the red cells. With time, they start breaking down and apart from that, the sickle cells cannot pass the tiny vessels. Hence, causing a lot of pains and damage to body organs.”
However, he said, with the improvement in the management of SCD, patients can now live longer with strict adherence to life saving interventions. “The interventions include regular medical check, regular intake of water, taking folic acid, preventing malaria, taking immunization and having a positive outlook to life,’’ Adediran said.
Statistics by Prof Akinyanju show that, over 500,000 children are born annually with clinically significant inherited Hb disorders. While 70 per cent are with sickle cell disorder, 30 per cent are with thalassaemia disorders. According to him, Nigeria, by virtue of its large population, has the largest burden of sickle cell disorder in the world.
“Over 40 million Nigerians are carriers of Hb AS as against 3 million Americans. Over 150, 000 children are born each year in Nigeria with Hb SS compared to 3000 in the USA and 100, 000 people are living with sickle cell disorder in the USA as against not less than 1000000 in Nigeria.”
Published: June 25, 2015. By: LARA ADEJORO
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