By Becky John
A non-governmental organisation, Rhesus Solution Initiative (RSI), on Monday called for more awareness on Rhesus factor conditions to reduce high rate of infant mortality and maternal morbidity. The RSI President, Mrs Olufunmilayo Banire, made the call in an interview with the newsmen in Lagos.
According to her, Rhesus disease is a condition which affects an unborn baby when the mother’s immune system generates antibodies which attack the baby’s red blood cells.
A website, “ www.mayoclinic.org’’, says “Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited trait that refers to a specific protein found on the surface of red blood cells.
“If your blood has the protein, you are Rh positive, which is the most common Rh factor. If your blood lacks the protein, you are Rh negative.
“Although, Rh factor does not affect your health, it can affect pregnancy. Your pregnancy needs special care if you are Rh negative and your baby’s father is Rh positive.’’
Banire said: “the reduction of rhesus incompatibility and its associated complications will be achieved through awareness and promotion of good quality preventive and management strategies.
“Currently, the cases and figures are high, especially in Lagos zone. So, there is need for more awareness of Rhesus factor as the level of ignorance is still high.
“So many people still attribute repeated loss of pregnancies or babies to “Abiku“ belief. Some don’t even know their blood group and Rhesus status.
“Rhesus incompatibility can pose challenges to both mother and baby. It can lead to miscarriage, abortion, ectopic pregnancy, amniocentesis, bleeding during pregnancy as well as other challenges.
“Partners should be compulsorily checked to see their RH factor compatibility, especially when a woman is pregnant.
“There is need to adopt awareness, counseling, intervention, training, advocacy and research to manage and treat this condition. “
She said that Rhesus incompatibility and associated complications could be tackled with the availability of Rhogam Injections.
“The reduction of infant mortality and maternal morbidity arising from Rhesus factor will complement all other efforts aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Four and Five.
“Most pregnant women do not show any symptom, but babies born with this disease often have anaemia and jaundice.
“The availability of Rhogam Injections at all primary health centres will go a long way to reduce the resultant effects of Rhesus factor.
“The availability of the RhoGAM Anti D Serum medication is a challenge as the drug is costly, thereby making it almost unaffordable to patients at the grassroots level.
“ We are imploring Nigerian government, corporate and other bodies or organisations as well as individuals to assist in providing the injection freely or at a much discounted price in our hospitals,’’ Banire said.