Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Some people living with sickle cell anaemia, in Kaduna State, have sent save-our-soul message to Governor Nasir el-Rufai to help make their everyday drugs available at public hospitals across the state.
This was the centre of discussion when Bako Youth Development Foundation, a sickle cell support group paid a courtesy call on the Commissioner, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWASD), Hajiya Hafsat Baba, in her office, on Tuesday.
Executive Director of the Foundation, Andy Bako said, one of the ways the state government through MWASD could help people in this category was to empower them to be self-reliant so they can be able to foot their medical bills.
Highlighting their challenge before the commissioner Bako said, “Paludrine which is one drug we take every day is unavailable in government’s hospitals and the cost in the open market is out of reach for most of us while the cost of laboratory investigations including blood transfusion is a big issue.
“Another challenge we face daily is the discriminatory attitudes of health workers towards us. If we have clinics, we get to the hospital as early as 7:00am and will remain on queue as long as it takes while some health workers will just come and bypass us to go and see the doctor and sometimes, if we are in crisis the health workers will just ignore us, shout at us or make some derogatory comments at us.
“Most of us are jobless because of the circumstances we find ourselves. Despite the fact that we have to take our drugs and go to the hospitals when in crisis and quite often we find it difficult to meet up with the bills due to poverty.”
He then pleaded that drugs that “we need like Paludrine, Folic Acid, B Complex and multivitamins be made available in all hospitals.
“Just like is done for people living with HIV/AIDS, government should put in place a policy that will wave all payments for people with sickle cell anaemia while we also encourage the government to make concerted effort to encourage youths to go for genotype in hospitals which should be made free of charge to encourage access”, he added.
Responding, Hajiya Hafsat Baba emphatised with those living with sickle cell anaemia saying, she understand their plight and promised to help where she could to put smile on their faces.
According to the commissioner, the administration of Governor Nasir el-Rufai is interested in issues that affect children and as such, she and her counterpart in the Ministry of Health and Human Services, Dr Paul Dogo, would put their heads together to see the possibility of coming up with a memo that will demand specific budget line for sickle cell anaemia patients in the state.
“I know what it means to be a sickle cell anaemia patient. I had an experience with my niece, who after series of crisis, died at age of 17. Sickle cell anaemia is worrisome especially if the affected person is in crisis.
“I want to enjoin our young persons to know their genotype before falling in love and getting married.
“This will address the issue of giving birth to children with the disease.
“I will see what we can do to help. I’m going to see my colleague at Ministry of Health, Dr. Paul Dogo and see the possibility of raising a memo to demand specific budget line for sickle cell anaemia patients as done in Family Planning.
“We will then make the memo available to our governor who I know will do something about what you have brought here – God willing”, said the commissioner.