As Nigeria takes the lead in sickle cell prevalence globally, Sickle Cell Patients Health Promotion Center (SCPHPC) Kaduna has urged governments at all levels to increase awareness on the disease to curb its spread in the country.
Founder of the Center, Hajiya Badiya Magaji Inuwa, who made the call during the 2020 World Sickle Cell Day celebration in Kaduna equally urged government to establish special free treatment and free routine drugs for Sickle Cell patients, as was done for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, to ease the suffering of Sickle Cell patients.
Speaking on the theme for 2020 World Sickle Cell Day; ‘Awareness as a Tool for the Prevention and Control of Sickle Cell Disease’, she said that only improved education, enlightenment and awareness would save more people from falling victim to the scourge that has cost so many lives and so much money for treatment across the country.
According to Hajiya Badiya, Nigerians should be encouraged to go for genotype testing before marriage, as many of those living with the disease are ignorant of it. She noted that the disease is deadly and costs parents of victims a lot of money.
“Our effort is one of the global awareness programmes, being the World Sickle Cell Day, we are talking about the fact that decision makers sweep the rule under the carpet as if they are not concerned. This should not be so.
“Nigeria has not less than 170 million people and they should not perpetually be kept in the dark on fact about the disease. There should be awareness and screening so that our people would be knowledgeable. Many still hold the erroneous belief that it is spiritual, tradition or caused by witchcraft.
“Nigeria has the biggest burden of the scourge globally, hence the need for increased advocacy on its prevention, treatment and management. We should create awareness about sickle cell the same way we created awareness on HIV/AIDS,” she said.
Speaking on the activities of the Sickle cell Health Promotion Center, she said the center’s primary objective is to create awareness on the sickle cell menace, adding that the center also supports the patients with free routine drugs.
Blueprint recalls that World Sickle Cell Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 to increase awareness about the sickle cell disease, preventive steps and its cure among the common people on June 19th every year.