Lack of funds has stalled the Federal Government’s policy of testing every newborn against sickle cell, it was learnt.
This is as 150,000 newborns in Nigeria are diagnosed of sickle cell, with 50 per cent of them dying before they are five.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also said sickle cell disease is one of the main causes of premature death among children under five in Nigeria and in some African countries.
The estimated cost of care is more than US$ 1000 per patient yearly.
Available record shows that sickle cell disease (SCD) affects nearly 100 million people and is responsible for over 50 per cent of deaths in those with the most severe form of the disease.
Speaking at the presentation of Hemo TypeSc, a care test for the detection of SCD, Dr. Alayo Sopekan, National Desk Officer on Sickle cell, Ministry of Health, said: “Nigeria has the highest burden of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in the world ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo and India.”
‘’The 1990 national NCDs survey reports he also noted showed that 24 per cent of its adults are healthy carriers of a defective S-gene.”
“The country ranks first as the sickle cell endemic country in Africa with a yearly infant death of about 150,000 representing more than eight per cent of infant mortality in the country.
“The WHO 2015 report estimated that two per cent of new-borns in Nigeria are affected by sickle cell anaemia, giving a total of about 150,000 affected children born every year in Nigeria alone.”
Noting that the country has put in place a policy to address the disease, such as testing for newborn, Sopekan, however, said the lack of fund has not allowed for the implementation.
Currently, he said the government was working on revitalising the six centres, which cut across the six get-political zones.
He called for early diagnosis and treatment in the management of the disease.
The National Desk officersaid the government would look into the test kits presented.
Also, Prof. Obiagele Nnodu, director, Centre of Excellence for Sickle Cell Disease Research and Training, University of Abuja noted said there are 39 sickle cell centres in the country.
She also spoke on the random tests carried out using the rapid testing kits, describing it as very accurate and efficient.
Nnodu noted that 1100 people were tested in two separate study.
By: Vincent Ikuomola
The Nation News