…Screens over 5,000 babies for Sickle Cell Disorder
As part of efforts to increase public knowledge and understanding of sickle cell disease (SCD) particularly amongst teenagers and youths, the Lagos State Government today organised a quiz and debate competition for students of 12 public junior and senior secondary schools in Ikeja local government area.
The debate and quiz competition which is part of activities to commemorate World Sickle Cell Day in Lagos focuses on history causes, presentation, symptoms, diagnosis, management and treatment of Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD) seeks to increase the understanding of disease amongst youth and highlight challenges experienced by patients, their families and caregivers.
The participating schools include Agidingbi Senior Grammar School, Opebi Senior Grammar School, State Senior High School, Omole Senior Grammar School, Ikeja Senior High School, Oke-Ira Senior Grammar School, Ojodu Junior Grammar School, Onilekere Junior High School, Ikeja Junior High School, Army Cantonment Junior Secondary and Opebi Junior Grammar School.
Speaking at the event held at the Conference Hall of the Folarin Coker Staff Clinic, Secretariat Alausa-Ikeja, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye explained that the Lagos State Ministry of Health is joining forces with the whole world to commemorate the World Sickle Cell Day with the debate and quiz competition for students as part of plans to give special recognition to youths who are the change agents of the future and coopt them into the fight against SCD.
He said: “It is a known fact that the youth of today are the future of a nation. They make up about half of the population in developing countries and are the strength of a people. They are dynamic change agents and efficient tools in achieving the desired future of a nation.
“You are truly instrumental in this fight against SCD. I therefore urge you all to fully utilize this opportunity to educate and inform yourselves on SCD and ensure we are adequately equipped to play our individual roles in this fight”.
The Permanent Secretary disclosed that that half of the global burden for SCD is shouldered by three countries – Nigeria, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He added that globally, over 300,000 children are born annually with Sickle Cell disorder and over 70% of these births occur in sub-Saharan Africa where majority of the children die before the age of five years.
“Nigeria, being the most populous black nation in the world, bears the greatest burden in sub-Saharan Africa. About 40 million Nigerians are healthy carriers of the sickle cell gene and over 150,000 babies are born each year with SCD”, he said.
Ogboye opined that concerted effort is needed to tackle the menace of the disease, noting that the effective strategies employed by the State Ministry of Health have been yielding the desired result.
He explained that the strategies adopted by the Ministry of Health include the commencement routine newborn screening for SCD, making Lagos the pioneer state to conduct the screening in Nigeria.
“This genotype screening service which commenced in the year 2021 is available in 25 General hospitals and 40 Primary Health Care Centres in the state and at present over 5,000 babies have been screened with about 200 babies screened positive for SCD and have been referred to specialist sickle cell clinics in the state”, Ogboye stated.
He added that the state government has strengthened efforts aimed at Health education and counselling services with the provision of Behavioral Change Communication (BCC), Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials and jingles on SCDs, in the major Nigerian languages.
“Other efforts include provision of routine school genotype screening and outreaches; promotion of access to quality medical services and care to affected persons; facilitation of the establishment of Sickle Cell Clubs in schools and health facilities; continued and sustained collaboration with NGOs, stakeholders and partners working on SCDs; strengthening the general capacity of health facilities to manage SCDs and provision of appropriate healthcare financing through the Lagos State health insurance package (Ilera Eko)”, the Permanent Secretary said.
He urged citizens to utilize the opportunity provided by the 2022 SCD commemoration to get themselves equipped with vital information about the disease in order to join forces with government and other stakeholders play individual and collective roles in the fight against the diseases.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director, Disease Control in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Rotimi Agbolagorite explained that the theme of Y2022 world Sickle Cell Day; “Shine the light on sickle cell” is well thought out as it reaffirms the need for increased awareness, screenings and the need for concerted efforts to tackle the burden imposed by the sickle cell in Nigeria.
He noted that the current statistics of SCD in Sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria shows that a lot still needs to be done, thus bringing to fore the need to spread the messages about the disease.
“We have come a long way in better understanding the disease; however, there is much more to learn and much more work to be done. Let today be a day where we celebrate the strides made while we push forward towards eradicating sickle cell disorder”, Agbolagorite said.
The high point of the event was the presentation of prizes to the winners of the competitions. Agidingbi Senior High School won the debate competition in the senior category while Oregun Junior High School won in the junior category. The quiz competition was won by Army Cantonment Junior Secondary School.