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Nigeria rank highest in Sickle Cell Disease, as FG moves to intervene

Victoria Ogunrinde
As Nigeria Joins her counterparts in other countries to commemorate the 2021 World Sickle Cell Day, the Federal government has adjudged the country currently as the highest-burden of Sickle Cell Disease Globally.
Minister of Health, Dr Osaghie Ehanire in a press statement over the weekend noted that Nigeria currently has the highest burden of Sickle Cell Disease in the whole World, ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo and India, with an estimated 25% of her adult population being carriers of defective S-gene.
According to Ehanire, World Health Organization (WHO) 2015 estimated that 2% of newborns in Nigeria are affected by sickle cell anaemia.
“This gives a total of about 150,000 affected children born every year and about 50%–80% of the estimated 150,000 infants born yearly with SCD in Nigeria die before the age of five years, and those that manage to survive to suffer end-organs damage which shortens their lifespan including stroke.”
Ehanire added that the available record shows that Sickle Cell Disease affects nearly 100 million people in the world, and is also responsible for over 50% of deaths in those with the most severe form of the disease (Hb SS).
“It is the most prevalent genetic disease in the WHO African Region. In many countries of the region including Nigeria, 10%–40% of the population carries the sickle-cell gene resulting in estimated Sickle Cell Disease prevalence of at least 2%.”
He further stated that Sickle Cell Disease is among the top 5 non-communicable diseases (NCDs) significantly contributing to maternal, neonatal, infant and child disability, morbidity and mortality and one disorder that may negatively undermine the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 3 and 4.  It is frequently associated with problems such as HIV/AIDS (especially in those with a history of frequent blood transfusion) and stroke.
 Ehanire explained that to intervene in the ugly situation, the government will ensure the revitalization and repositioning of the six zonal Sickle Cell Disease centres for improved Sickle Cell Disease service delivery and access to care for those living with the disease.
Speaking on the theme “Shine the Light on Sickle Cell” Ehanire noted that this gives us a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the increasing burden of SCD, and eliminate the negative notion associated with it, as well as building synergy with civil society organizations, international institutions and development partners towards the prevention, control and management of SCD in Nigeria.
“Implement the national guideline for the prevention, control and management of Sickle Cell Disease including the protocol for newborn screening, and the Integration of Sickle Cell Disease care and services into the maternal and child health services, especially at the primary and secondary levels of healthcare in Nigeria, to improve early identification of cases and enrolment into the comprehensive care for Sickle Cell Disease.”
“Others include scaling up of advocacy and mass mobilization of communities on Sickle Cell Disease across Nigeria including continuous advocacy for access to drugs, and diagnostics for Sickle Cell Disease and mass mobilization for support for the newborn screening policy, strengthening supportive supervision, monitoring and evaluation.
and Institutionalising early identification of cases through universal newborn screening at all levels of care among others.”

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