Twenty four per cent of Nigeria’s population have trait of sickle cell disease, Dr Anthony Usaro, National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Disease Division, Federal Ministry of Health, has said.
Usaro, who made the disclosure at the weekend in Abuja in an interview with newsmen, said about 150, 000 Nigerian children are born with sickle cell disease annually.
He said that Nigeria ranks the most sickle cell endemic country in Africa with an annual infant death rate of 100,000 representing eight per cent of infant mortality in the country.
He said the disease contributes to maternal, neo-natal, infant and child mortality in Nigeria, adding that it undermines the attainment of Millennium Development Goals.
Usaro said the ministry had developed a comprehensive national guideline for the control and management of the disease.
“Sickle cell disease affects all human systems; the clinical management of patients with the disease is multidisciplinary.
“The guidelines would facilitate uniformity and standardization of care across different discipline,” he said.
In the area of prevention, Usaro the guidelines would focus on screening of new born children, pre-marital counseling and registration of patients with sickle cell disease.
The coordinator said the ministry was collaboration with sickle cell support society to carry out research on ‘effective and affordable’ treatment of the disease.
He said the ministry had established six centres in Abakaliki, Lagos, Gombe, Keffi, Yenagoa and Birnin Kebbi for the treatment of sickle cell.
Usaro described sickle cell as ‘chronic and expensive’ to treat, adding that it places socio-economic burden on the sufferer, their family or community.
He said the ministry was collaboration with stakeholders to provide financial assistance for sickle cell patients to reduce the burden of managing the disease.