Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has said Nigeria has the highest burden of sickle-cell anaemia with over 150,000 children born annually with it.
He said this during the 2013 Sickle Cell Summit held in Lagos to mark the world’s Sickle Cell Day organised by Dabma Sickle Cell Foundation in partnership with the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Ethics and Values.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Know your Sickle Cell Status’, Okowa explained that “the sickle cell is a genetic disorder with a high prevalence in our country, Nigeria.”
He added, “The prevalence rate here recently is about two per cent and a carrier rate of about 20 per cent. And close to 50 per cent of these children die before the age of five. We obviously have a huge burden on our hands as a nation.”
Okowa, who was represented by a former Delta State Commissioner for Transport, Chief Lawrence Osiegbu, however, admitted that knowing one’s genotype was one of the sure ways of preventing and controlling the burden of the disorder.
The senator further reiterated the commitment of his committee to the nation’s health care delivery system, saying “a Bill for an Act to prevent, control and manage Sickle Cell Disorder is being sponsored and it is our hope that the legislation will impact on our people’s life.”
On his part, Chairman of the foundation, Pastor Emmanuel Ibekwe, said June 19 was a day set aside by the United Nations to mark the world’s Sickle Cell day, calling for a concerted effort in the fight against the disease.
He said, “The awareness about sickle cell disorder has suffered tremendously. I appeal to corporate organisations to be involved in the fundraising for the victims of sickle cell.”
In his lecture, a Professor of Anatomy and Consultative Reproductive Endocrinologist, Oladapo Ashiru, noted that sickle-cell couples could breed normal children through the test-tube way, while stating that Nigeria recorded the first breakthrough in 1989 under his team.