World Sickle Cell Day 2021 observed in Awka

The World Sickle Cell Day 2021 was jointlymarked byAnambra State and the Chiemma Empowerment Foundation (CEF) under the Anambra State Ministry of Health.

The event was held on June 19 at Professor Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka with a theme: “Importance of Genotype Compatibility in Marriage’’.

Wife of the Governor of Anambra State, Dr (Mrs) Ebelechukwu Obiano, officially declared the event open.

She was re-presented by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr Simeon Onyemaechi.

In an address stressed the need to dissect the issue of sickle cell and move away from paying lip services to it.

According to her, Sickle cell disease (SCD) has assumed public health proportions with approximately 300,000 new births annually globally, with major health implications, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where Nigeria accounts for about three quarters of the disease burden.

She noted that from an estimated 150,000 cases, the annual birth of babies with sickle cell anaemia was regarded as the most common form of sickle cell disease.

“This staggering statistics, according to health experts, has ranked Nigeria as the worst in terms of sickle cell burden in the World.’’

Mrs Obiano maintained that in every 1,000 life births no fewer than 25 people had sickle cell anemia; there was therefore the need to move away from SCD making it a reality.

Wife of the Governor Mrs Obiano, then, attributed the prevalence of sickle cell disorders in the country to ignorance, a lack of awareness of people’s genotypes, religious practices and beliefs.

She enjoined warriors of SCD to practice healthy habits like drinking sufficient water and eating nutritious foods.

“Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink at least 3 to 4.5 liters of water daily to avoid dehydration; stay away from refined foods which contain monosodium glutamate.

“The fact that you are a carrier today; you can attain any height and live good life until old age.’’

Mrs Obiano urged persons living with sickle cell disease to enroll in an ongoing free medical health insurance at the Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) in the state as provided by the Government.

In his goodwill message, the Director FIDES Media, Rev. Fr. Martin Anusi, who acknowledged challenges experienced by patients and their families and caregivers said people living with the disorder should be given adequate attention.

“Parents should not to be distracted nor allow issues to be complicated before availing their wards frequent check-ups.’’

The priest thanked the foundation for their ceaseless assistance in reaching out to people with SCD.

Delivering a lecture on “Sickle Cell Management and Importance of Genotype Compatibility’’, a Consultant Hematologist, NAUTH, Nnewi Dr Ifeoma Clara Ajuba emphasized that SCD was a multi system disorder that affected the blood and required multi disciplinary approach with comprehensive care.

The inherited condition caused red blood cells to stick together thereby blocking blood flow and oxygen from reaching all parts of the body.

She maintained that Sickle cell disease was the commonest cause of stroke in children as people with sickle cell disorders needed regular checkups with their doctor, follow up treatment and medication as prescribed by their doctors.

Dr Ajuba also solicited for creation of more Sickle Cell Centres in the state for handling of acute cases and treatment.

Buttressing her thoughts, the Programme Coordinator Non-communicable Diseases, Anambra State Ministry of Health Mrs Arinze Ego said the day was remarkable to celebrate to help to understand and prevent the disorders as there was nothing like `faith’ in genotype compatibility. The organisers held free Genotype testing for children; there was also a presentation of cash donation by Dr Ebelechukwu Obiano to the foundation.

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