Ikpeazu spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a counselling session organised by the foundation for sickle cell patients in Umuahia.

She said that there would also be follow up treatment for the patients at subsidised rates, as a way of mitigating impact of the condition on the sufferers.

According to her, the foundation also plans to have desk officers in all the local government secretariats to enlighten people at the grassroots about the disorder.

In his remarks, Mr Godswill Ogbonnaya, a consultant public health physician, said that family support played a valuable role in the management of sickle cell anaemia.

Ogbonnaya said that it was pertinent to support sickle cell patients right from the home front.

This, he said, was because the problems associated with sickle cell disease and its management occurred primarily at home.

The physician said that patients with sound family support did better in managing the disease, especially in adhering to medical advice.

“The family can assist the patients to have access to proper medication and help them to cope with stressors of life and provide basic nutrition.

“When the patient has problems, they can move him quickly to a facility, because you don’t expect someone who has crisis to carry himself to the hospital,” Ogbonnaya said.

He expressed dismay over the negative disposition of some families toward sickle cell anaemia, saying that in such families, sickle cell patients were usually regarded as cursed and in turn neglected.

Ogbonnaya urged sickle cell anemia patients to know where to get help in time of emergency, go for regular medical checkup and visual assessment.

He also advised them to maintain good hygiene, good sanitation, prevent infection through immunisation and avoid stress as it precipitates crisis.

Also, Miss Osinachi Kanu, a 32-year-old sickle cell patient, thanked the foundation for providing a health centre that would be devoted to addressing the needs of patients.

Kanu said that the gesture would give    patients in the state sense of belonging.