Dr. Ismaila Olatuunji Sule, a Biomedical Science expert based in UK, has said that many Nigerians stand the risk of losing their lives, following the high rate of increase in Sickle Cell disease patients in the country.
Dr. Sule noted that the death risk will remain high if adequate awareness of the trend is not created among the citizens, especially in the rural communities.
As a result, he stressed the need for rural community dwellers to take advantage of every available opportunity to educate themselves on the realities of the sickle cell disease and its resultant effect on the growth of the communities and the country as a whole.
Speaking at the launch of TunMicro Sickle Cell Support Group, a sickle cell awareness creation and support initiative, the Biomedical Scientist noted that once a person has a trait of sickle cell, that person also stands the risk of producing a sickle cell patient.
Dr. Sule, who is the Principal Coordinator of TunMicro Sickle Cell Support Group stressed the need for Nigerians, especially those in rural communities to know their genotype status before engaging in any courtship preceding marriage.
He said, “The parentage of Nigerians that may likely die of sickle cell is high. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization has confirmed that Nigeria has the highest percentage of sickle cell disorder in Africa and even all over the world.
“Considering the fact that life expectancy in Africa is very low, where people don’t even care about their gene status before getting married, it is just like compounding the existing problems that already linger.
“What we are trying to do now has been done in Europe several years ago, and that is why it is very rare to find sickle cell patients in their society. They have systematically rid their country of sickle cell patients through their discovery of genotype status as the cause of the spread. And the only way out for us to prevent continuous production of sickle cell patients in our society is for people to be aware of their genotype status”.
Speaking on reasons behind his initiative, the TunMicro initiator noted that two years after working in the UK as a medical officer, he realized later that some of his colleagues adopted one or two children from Kenya, Zambia and others, whom they catered for in all areas of their needs. And as a result, he resolved to offer something worthwhile back home.
On the response of Nigerians to the creation of awareness about sickle cell, he noted that, though it may be low, due to so many factors influencing their orientation, his organization will not relent in its bid to meet their health care needs.
“Some Nigerians don’t get involved in activities that don’t earn them immediate returns, but we will try our best to make sure the information reaches all our target beneficiaries. We will not rest on our oars, but we will persistently do all that we can do within our capacity to reach out to them with the needed information that will better their lots,” Dr. Sule said.
Delivering his lecture at the event on the awareness and prevention of sickle cell disease, Dr. Ucheoma Okpokiri, Medical Officer, Orion Clinics, noted that up to 90 percent of Sickle Cell patients will live up to 20 years of age, while up to 50 percent will live up to 50 years of age.
Dr. Okpokiri stressed the need for parents to be involved in any relationship attempted by their children so as to guard against falling victim of sickle cell misfortune and warned against negligence among intending couples who avoid undergoing genotype test all in a desperate bid to rush into marriage without considering the consequences.