Home News FG to integrate sickle cell care into maternal, child healthcare

FG to integrate sickle cell care into maternal, child healthcare

by Haruna Gimba
0 comment

By Muhammad Amaan

The Federal Government of Nigeria said it will integrate Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) care and services into maternal and child health to improve early identification of cases.

The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, disclosed this on Wednesday in Abuja at a media conference to commemorate the 2024 World Sickle Cell Day (WSCD) with the theme “Hope Through Progress: Advancing Care Globally.”

Sickle cell is a group of disorders that cause red blood cells to become misshapen and break down.

With sickle cell disease, an inherited group of disorders, red blood cells contort into a sickle shape and die early, leaving a shortage of healthy red blood cells (sickle cell anaemia), blocking blood flow and causing pain (sickle cell crisis).

The World Sickle Cell Day is annually commemorated on June 19 to raise awareness about the disease and the need for urgent action.

The global observance day is also to draw attention to the challenges faced by individuals and families affected by SCD.

The health minister, who was represented by the ministry’s Director of Public Health, Dr Chukwuma Anyaike, said the integration was targeted at both primary and secondary levels of healthcare in the country.

According to him, the integration will improve early detection of cases and enrollment into the comprehensive care for SCD.

He also said that plans were underway to deploy newly validated, efficient and cost-effective Point of Care screening methods that would identify SCD in new-borns, and in other age groups, as first line screening method for SCD at different levels of care.

He listed other measures to reduce the burden of the disease as: revitalisation and re-positioning of the six SCD centres for improved SCD service delivery and access to care for those living with the disease.

Prof. Pate said SCD is the most prevalent genetic disease in the WHO African Region, and that in many countries of the region including Nigeria, 10 to 40 per cent of the population carry the sickle-cell gene, resulting in estimated SCD prevalence of at least two per cent.

He said “the situation in the region also indicates that national policies and strategic action plans are inadequate, while appropriate facilities and trained personnel are scarce.

“In Nigeria, SCD contributes significantly to both child and adult morbidity and mortality.

“Nigeria stands out as the most SCD endemic country in Africa and globally, ahead of India and Democratic Republic of Congo, with an annual infant death of 100,000, representing eight per cent of infant mortality.”

The minister added that those that managed to survive, do suffer end-organs damage, which not only shorten their lifespan, but also affects their quality of life.

He also said it is one disorder that may negatively undermine the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) one, three and four.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, said that among the more than 120 million people affected globally by SCD, an estimated 66 per cent live in Africa.

He also said that “an average of 1,000 children are born every day with SCD, making it the most prevalent genetically-acquired disease in the African region.”

Mulombo, who was represented by Dr Kelius Msyamboza, said about 6.4 per cent of under-five mortality in Africa is attributed to SCD, with a 26 per cent increase in deaths from 2000 to 2019.

He, however, said in response to the situation, the organisation developed a strategy to tackle the disease in the WHO African Region, adopted by member states during the 66th Regional Committee for Africa.

Mulombo said the strategy provided a set of public health interventions to reduce the disease burden through improved awareness, prevention and early detection.

According to him, early diagnosis in new-borns through point-of-care screening allows early treatment that can save lives, alleviate symptoms and reduce suffering from pains.

“As for adults with SCD, regular checks are crucial to monitor signs of organ damage, early detection and effective management, he advised.

He disclosed that Nigeria had been selected as one of the 20 priority countries to implement the PEN-Plus intervention.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

About Us

Feature Posts


@2024 – Health Reporters