The Lagos State Government says it will continue to strengthen its medical personnel and adequately equip health institutions with modern Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Centres.

Dr Idiat Adebule, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, spoke on Monday at an event organised by the Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria (SCFN) to mark the 2017 World Sickle Cell Day in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that every June 19 is set aside to raise awareness and educate people on the disorder.

The World Sickle Cell Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 to increase the awareness about the sickle cell disease and its cure among the common public.

It was first celebrated on June 19, 2009.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Sickle cell is one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in various African countries.

The theme for 2017 World Sickle Cell Day is: “Stop the Stigma: Make the World a Better Place’’.

Adebule was represented by Mrs Lola Aare-Adegbite, the Tutor General/Permanent Secretary, Education District IV.

She said: “Our administration will continue to support and partner with organisations that are ready to strengthen the level of advocacy for the care and treatment of persons suffering from this ailment.

“We will continue to raise the level of public awareness, advocacy and implementing policies that promote and enhance quality healthcare and full development of citizens.

“We will also continue to strengthen our medical personnel and adequately equip our health institutions with modern Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Centres.

“We will equip them with facilities that are unequaled for screening of patients, early diagnosis and management of the disease.’’

Adebule described the disorder as, “a disease that has become a public health issues worldwide which must be brought under control to save our future generation”.

According to her, statistics reveal that in Africa, over 1000 babies born every day have sickle cell disorder and die before they are five years old.

Adebule urged all Nigerians to be involved in sensitising people on the disease.

“I want to challenge us all that efforts at sensitising should not stop here; let us spread the news in our communities.

“It should be the responsibility of all of us to create awareness of sickle cell anemia as a major health issue worldwide and ensure that all the myths and stigmas about the disease are removed.

“I want to challenge well-meaning individuals, corporate bodies, non-governmental organisations and international organisations to support the research and implementation of medicare strategies to completely eradicate this disorder,” she said.

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Also, Dr Annette Akinsete, the National Director of the foundation, said: “Sickle Cell is an inherited blood disorder common in Africa, particularly in Nigeria where one out of every four persons carries the “SS’’ gene.

“There is need to raise awareness and get people to know their genotype early.

“If people are informed early enough, they will be better equipped to manage their health; having sickle cell disease is not a death sentence."

“The National Sickle Cell Centre is an NGO and we offer information on the disorder, anyone is at liberty to access us.

“Today, we have organised a quiz amongst some selected secondary schools in the state; it is to educate students at that level on the disorder, as well as enable them to have fun,’’ she said.

NAN reports that 14 schools participated in the quiz.

They are: Bolade Senior Grammar School, Igbobi College, Yaba, Ilupeju Senior Grammar School, Ikeja Senior Grammar School, Iju Senior Grammar School and Herbert Macaulay Girls Senior High School.

Others include Herbert Macaulay Girls Senior High School and Kings College, Yaba.

At the end of the competition, Kings College emerged as the champion, winning the trophy for the 2017.