Dr Adebukola Orolu, a Consultation Haematologist at the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, Lagos, has urged parents to know their children’s genotype from a tender age to reduce sickle anaemia mortality rate.
Orolu, the Head of Haematology Department in the hospital, said this on Monday in Lagos at a programme to sensitise students on sickle cell disorder, held at Igando Senior High School, Lagos.
World Sickle Cell Day is observed every June 19 globally to raise awareness about sickle cell anaemia (SCA) and its impact on individuals, families and communities worldwide.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic blood disorder in which abnormal red blood cells take on a crescent or sickle shape and these irregularly shaped cells cause blockages in blood vessels resulting in various health problems.
Orolu said: “Close to 150,000 children are born with sickle cell disease in Nigeria and this is a big health challenge.
“We want Nigerians to know their genotype and that of their children at a tender age to commence care for children with SCD on time and prevent other health issues that may arise in nearest future.
“The Lagos State Government has already started newborn screening in all the general hospitals in the state so that children with sickle cell can be cared for.
“Some parent don’t know their children’s genotype until they are over five years and more.
“If all the necessary care is given at a little age, the mortality rate for under-five sickle cell carriers will reduce”.
The Consultant added that students in secondary schools should also be aware of their genotypes in order to guard them.
“The reason why we are having this programme here is because a lot of our students don’t know their genotype and they have attained puberty.
“This is where sexual education comes in, so that they will take the right decision when they are ready for any relationship in the nearest future or marriage,” she said.
She urged intending couples to seek medical advise before getting married in order to break the chain of sickle cell disease in the country.
She advised sickle cell patients to take their medication regularly, eat the right proportion of food, fruit vegetables and take a lot of water to help reduce complications.
Speaking also, Dr Ayodapo Soyinka, the Medical Director of the hospital said the programme was put together to create awareness about the disease, noting that people with SCD should not be discriminated against.
Soyinka, represented by Dr Jane Bakare, the HOD of Medicine Department of the facility, urged the students to take the information back to their parents, communities and friends to know there Genotype.
Wisdom Irueghe and Badmus Labeebah, both SS2 students of the school, commended the hospital for educating them on the importance of knowing their genotype and sickle cell disease.