Over 150,000 Nigerian Children Are Born With Sickle Cell disease Annually - FG

Over 150,000 Nigerian children are born with sickle cell disease annually. Majority of these children die before the age of five.

It is also estimated that over 40million Nigerians have the sickle cell traits, just as about 100 million people are said to be affected globally.

The disease, according to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Linus Awute, is responsible for over 50% deaths in the most severe form of the disease.

The Permanent Secretary, who spoke on the occasion marking the World Sickle Cell Day with the theme: “Control of Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria at Primary Health Care Level” with sub-theme “Collaboration for the Control of Sickle Cell Disease in West Africa,” said the country had empowered six federal medical centres in all the six geopolitical zones in the country to run dedicated clinics and programmes for the management and control of sickle cell.

The centres are located in Abakaliki, (South-East); Birni-Kebbi (North-West); Ebute Meta (South-West); Gombe (North-East);  Keffi (North Central); and Yenagua (South-South).

According to the Nation, Awute said the country had also made a major breakthrough in the treatment of the disease.

According to him, “It may interest you to know that the stem cell transplant which is currently the only definitive cure for sickle cell disease is done in Nigeria.”

Though he listed the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) as the only center in the country where the transplant had been carried out, Awute  disclosed that UBTH had successfully carried out two  transplants between September 2011 and 2013, while in 2014, the hospital successfully carried out a total red cell exchange.

He explained that the low number of transplant in the country was as a result of the high cost involved, as according to him, it cost N5million to carry out transplant.

He blamed the lack of awareness to the rampant incident of sickle cell in Nigeria, stressing that with adequate awareness, a lot of people would become conscious of the consequence of the disease and thereby avoiding issues that could lead to it.

He also advocated for universal screening of all newborn babies and genetic counselling for the general public.

Beside creating awareness, Awute said it was necessary to ensure comprehensive care for all sickle cell disease patients in Nigeria.

He further explained that “currently, efforts are made to integrate the management of sickle cell disease and other communicable diseases into primary health care services.”

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