Increasing The Much Needed Awareness On Sickle Cell Disease, By Mustapha Saddiq
Since 2008 when it was first slated, World Sickle Cell Awareness Day has been held annually on 19th June, in order to help increase public knowledge and raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and the struggles sufferers and their families go through.
The date was chosen to commemorate the day on which a resolution was officially adopted by the General
Assembly of the United Nations, recognising SCD as a public health concern. SCD affects millions of people around the world, including both adults and children.
Three quarters of sickle-cell cases occur in Africa. A recent WHO report estimated that around 2% of newborns in Nigeria were affected by sickle cell anaemia, giving a total of 150,000 affected children
born every year in Nigeria alone. In 2013 it resulted in 176,000 deaths up from 113,000 deaths in 1990. It is a potentially fatal disease and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in various African countries.
Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is a hereditary blood disorder, characterised by an abnormality in the oxygen-carrying ‘substance’ in red blood cells called the Haemoglobin. This leads to an abnormal, rigid, sickle-like shaped red blood cells under certain circumstances. Sickle-cell disease is associated with a number of acute and chronic health problems, such as severe infections, attacks of severe pain (“sickle-cell crisis”), and stroke, and there is an increased risk of death.
Sickle-cell disease occurs when a person inherits two abnormal copies of the haemoglobin gene, one from
each parent. If one parent has sickle-cell anaemia and the other has sickle-cell trait or in a plain term – is a carrier to the SCD, then the child has a 50% chance of having sickle-cell disease and a 50% chance of having sickle-cell trait. When both parents have sickle-cell trait, a child has a 25% chance of sickle-cell disease, 25% do not carry any sickle-cell traits, and 50% have the trait.
There are many clinical procedures and drugs use by SCD patients to alleviate their pains and sufferings. But so far, bone marrow transplants are the only known cure for the disease. However this is very difficult to obtain especially to the common man due to its complicating, expensive and highly sophisticating techniques.
Interestingly, this disease can be prevented but can not be cured easily. It can be prevented by simply choosing the right compatible spouse for marriage. It is this simple, everyone of us should go and know their genotype and choose their spouse accordingly. No child deserve to suffer from this preventable disease. Let’s know our genotype, let’s break the sickle-cell cycle.
Intern, Federal Medical, Centre. Katsina.