Health foundation, clubs, seek public support for patients

Mrs Ayo Otaigbe, President, Sickle Cell Club, made this plea at the End of Year celebration of the club held at the National Sickle Cell Centre, Lagos.

 

The Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria (SCFN), and Sickle Cell Club, Lagos, have called for public support to help improve the lives of people with Sickle Cell Disorders (SCD).

Mrs Ayo Otaigbe, President, Sickle Cell Club, made this plea at the End of Year celebration of the club held at the National Sickle Cell Centre, Lagos.

Otaigbe said that more research was also required to aid in the management of the disorder.

"The fact that over 150,000 children are born every year in Nigeria with symptomatic sickle cell anaemia while one in every four Nigerian is a carrier of the sickle cell gene is well documented.

"`Many of these children die at infancy due to lack of information and appropriate care. Over the years, advances have been made to unravel the complex nature of SCD.

"However, the disorder is not well understood as expected and it is certainly not amenable to various drugs of unproven efficacy optimistically marketed in Nigeria.

"Therefore, more research is needed in various fronts, especially on the immediate cause of severe pain crises, so that rational therapy and not simply analgesics can be applied’’, she noted.

According to her, the objective will be to effectively abort or prevent their occurrence.

Otaigbe said although SCD was not confined to Africa, over 80 per cent of affected children were born on the continent, yet Africa had shown apathy in addressing the major public health problem.

She enjoined Nigerians to make a difference and contribute/promote funding that will make meaningful research into SCD in Africa a reality.

She said that the club had through its activities continued to increase public awareness and knowledge of the disorder especially through the establishment of sickle cell clubs, partnering with the SCFN and other stakeholders.

According to her, the focus for 2016 will be to consolidate on the successes recorded in 2015 and increase the level of awareness.

Prof. Olu Akinyaju, Chairman, SCFN, reiterated the need for Nigerians to support people with SCD.

"People should support persons with SCD; they should also support the centre and the clubs; there is a lot to be done in the area of SCD.

"We do not get enough donations, research has to be done, and workers need to be paid, people with SCD need tests, counselling and medication.

"We have a programme where we encourage everyone to give N5,000 monthly to the centre, it will mean a lot.

"In 2016, we will do more capacity building, it is very important and it will involve periodic counselling, training for personnel, doctors and nurses for emergency situations’’, he said.

Akinyaju called for the establishment of at least one sickle cell centre in each state of the federation.

He advised people with SCD to always keep warm, stay away from dust, sleep under mosquito nets, take medication and drink a lot of water during harmattan.

Mr Olasukanmi Rotimi, SCD person from the Apapa Sickle Cell Area Club, Lagos, said that people with SCD need a lot of care and attention.

He urged the public to always lend a comforting and helping hand to anyone who had the disorder.

Rotimi said that with adequate care, strict adherence to medication and appropriate lifestyle, people with SCD could also accomplish feats just like those who do not have the disorder.

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