The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has disclosed that Nigeria accounts for about 66 percent of cases of sickle cell anemia babies born annually in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Minister made this known yesterday in Abuja during the national dialogue on a better life for persons living with sickle cell disorders organized by the SOM Sickle Cell Foundation in collaboration with the Yakubu Gowon Centre. While quoting from the World Health Organisation, WHO report, Dr. Ehanire said over 300,000 babies are born globally with sickle cell disorder where Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for about 75% of the cases.
He explained that five percent of the world population lives with hemoglobin disorder, mainly Sickle-cell disease and thalassemia.
According to the Chairman of the SOM foundation, Mallam Shehu Olaitan Mohammed, the dialogue was to mobilize sickle cell patients to a common platform and deliberate on how best to approach the menace head-on in our society.
He revealed that the foundation has incorporated 100 indigent sickle cell warriors for the National Health Insurance Scheme and has the plan to increase the number to 400 in the next five years.
He added, soon the foundation would commence a program called operation “know-your genotype drive” which will focus on free genotype testing for a minimum of 100 people every year.
Director and Head of the Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Pharmacist Zainab Ujudud Sheriff, has called on mothers and other genuine caregivers to harness the benefits of alternative medicine.
On his part, Prof. Aisha Indo Mamman, Consultant Haematologist, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, urged support for SCD patients and their relatives.
Meanwhile, Prof. Olusegun Shoyombo, consultant psychiatrist at the National Hospital, Abuja, called on the public to desist from stigmatizing people living with SCD.