. . . As 500 Babies Undergo Screening For Sickle Cell Disorder
The Lagos State Government has organised a quiz and debate competition for students of 12 public junior and senior secondary schools in Ikeja Local Government to create awareness about sickle cell disorder, especially among teenagers and youths.
The competition, held to commemorate World Sickle Cell Day in Lagos, focused on history causes, presentation, symptoms, diagnosis, management and treatment of Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) and highlighted challenges experienced by patients, their families and caregivers.
Speaking at the event held at the Conference Hall of the Folarin Coker Staff Clinic, Secretariat Alausa-Ikeja, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, said that the Lagos State Ministry of Health planned the event to co-opt youths into the fight against the disorder.
Advising youths to support the fight against Sickle Cell Disorder, the Permanent Secretary said, “You are truly instrumental in this fight against sickle cell disorder. I, therefore, urge you all to fully utilise this opportunity to educate and inform yourselves on the condition and ensure we are adequately equipped to play our individual roles in this fight”.
Dr. Ogboye disclosed that half of the global burden for sickle cell is shouldered by three countries – Nigeria, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo, adding that globally, over 300,000 children are born annually with Sickle Cell disorder and over 70% of these births occur in sub-Saharan Africa where a majority of the children die before the age of five years.
“Nigeria, being the most populous black nation in the world, bears the greatest burden in sub-Saharan Africa. About 40 million Nigerians are healthy carriers of the sickle cell gene and over 150,000 babies are born each year with the sickle cell disorder”, he said.
Disclosing that the Ministry of Health adopted a strategy to routinely screen newborn babies for sickle cell disorder, the Permanent Secretary declared that Lagos is the pioneer State to conduct such screening in Nigeria.
His words: “This genotype screening service, which commenced in the year 2021, is available in 25 General hospitals and 40 Primary Health Care Centres in the State and at present over 5000 babies have been screened with about 200 babies screened positive for SCD and have been referred to specialist sickle cell clinics in the State”.
“Other efforts include the provision of routine school genotype screening and outreaches; promotion of access to quality medical services and care to affected persons; facilitation of the establishment of Sickle Cell Clubs in schools and health facilities; continued and sustained collaboration with NGOs, stakeholders and partners working on SCDs; strengthening the general capacity of health facilities to manage SCDs and provision of appropriate healthcare financing through the Lagos State Health Insurance package (Ilera Eko)”.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director, Disease Control in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Rotimi Agbolagorite, explained that the theme of Y2022 World Sickle Cell Day; “Shine the light on sickle cell” was well thought out as it reaffirms the need for increased awareness, screenings and the need for concerted efforts to tackle the burden imposed by the sickle cell in Nigeria.
“We have come a long way in better understanding the disease; however, there is much more to learn and much more work to be done. Let today be a day where we celebrate the strides made while we push forward towards eradicating sickle cell disorder”, Agbolagorite said.
Prizes were presented to the winners of the competition with Agidingbi Senior High School winning the debate competition in the senior category while Oregun Junior High School won in the junior category. The quiz competition was won by Army Cantonment Junior Secondary School.