Nigeria Celebrates World Sickle Cell Day, See Achievements And Challenges

Nigeria today joins the rest of the world to mark the sickle cell day awareness celebration. The day was set aside by the United Nation General Assembly in 2008 in order to create public awareness about the sickle cell disease as well as finding a cure to the disorder. The General Assembly chooses June 19 every year to celebrate, while the first celebration began on June 19 2008. The disorder has become a major issue as an estimated 1000 babes given birth to everyday, is affected with Sickle Cell Disease in the Africa continent alone.

World Sickle Cell Celebration Day

While there may not be a standard figure of the popular of people living with the disorder, studies have revealed that large percentage of those suffering with the disease is from the developing world. According to records by the National Sickle Cell Centre located in Lagos, “over 40 million Nigerians are healthy carriers of the sickle cell gene, while over 150,000 babies are born each year with sickle cell anaemia”. This report went further to state that by far, Nigeria has the highest case of the disorder anywhere in the world. 

Nigeria in its bid to fight the deadly disease established the Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria changed with the task of alleviating the burden pose by people suffering of sickle cell disorder in the country and also to ensure that all affected persons have the chance of living a normal pain-free life. Also the government went further to build a National Sickle Cell Centre located opposite the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Lagos. This is to help facilitate desirable and effectively collaborate with a tertiary care hospital and university research centre. The centre will help to see and ensure that the development and collaboration between each Sickle Cell Centres in State of the Federation including Abuja are met. The State Centre’s in turn would support and supervise the operation of the Sickle Cell Clubs within its locality. This formula was adopted to ensure that the disorder is put under control and also to see that success is achieve in the fight against a sickle cell free society.

The World Health Organization described the disease as a genetic blood disorder that affects the haemoglobin within the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein found in the red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. The inability of the blood to deliver oxygen to the body in time leads to organ damage, as well as serious threat to other parts of the body such as the brain, eyes, lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, penis, joints, bones, or skin.

Although the disease is not contagious, but it is inheritable and may lead to death if not properly treated. While symptoms of the disease may varies, early signs of the disease begins in childhood and features include a low number of red blood cells, repeated infections, and periodic episodes of pain.

While the world may be celebrating June 19 as sickle cell day, it should be noted that Sickle cell disease is a life-long threaten illness. The life expectancy of most people living with the disease is between 35–60 years. So be aware, and get you blood tested to know your status.

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