Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Over 150,000 babies are born annually with sickle cell disease in Nigeria, Chief Medical Laboratory Scientist, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Barnawa, Kaduna, Abdullahi Musa Maikano, has said.
The medical expert, who made the shocking revelation in Kaduna on Wednesday during a meeting organised by a Kaduna-based NGO, Bako Youth Development Foundation, as part of activities marking this year’s World Sickle Cell disease day celebration, said 40 million Nigerians, the highest number in the world, currently live with the sickle cell disease.
According to him, the condition, which is the leading genetic disease in the world, passed on through inheritance, is irreversible
Maikano, who covered 50 percent of the medical test bill, said “the best option now is prevention and that can only be achieved by going for genotype test early in life. And thank God for a Foundation such as the one that brought us here today who has been creating awareness on sickle cell.
“About 40 million Nigerians are living with sickle cell disease and 150,000 babies are born annually, making it the worst in the world. We need more awareness. People need to get tested before having anything close to marriage together,” the medical expert warned.
Earlier, Founder, Bako Youth Development Foundation, Andy Bako, noted that sickle cell can be best addressed if young Nigerians know their genotype even before chosing their future spouses.
The Foundation says that, with the world awaiting affordable and available scientific breakthroughs to deal decisively with the scourge, especially in poor earning settings in Sub-Saharan, the need for prevention should be at the front burner of any serious government.
According to Maikano, “Today, the world is celebrating sickle cell day as set aside by the United Nations to show solidarity for people in this category. In our on case, we want to commemorate the day by prevention.
“So, we want to call on as many youths as possible to avail themselves of free tests on genotype. We are expecting 300 of them as we are here, but that can be extended if we have more.
“Apart from that, we have those we call warriors here. That is those who are living with and managing sickle cell. We have drugs for them as our own way of identifying with them that they are important.
“You witnessed what happened when one of them went into crisis a few minutes ago. That was because it rained this morning and the weather is a bit cold. In all of this, we need to let people know that they can make a decision not to join those who already have the disease. By so doing, we shall gradually nip it in the bud,” Maikano advised.