The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, says the country will review the guideline for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in 2022 to improve its treatment as the old one is obsolete.
Ehanire, represented by a Deputy Director in the ministry, Dr. Alayo Sopekan, said this in Abuja on Monday, at the Sickle Pan African Consortium Nigeria Network (SPARC-NET) two-day workshop.
He said that Nigeria has the highest burden of sickle cell diseases globally.
According to him, more than 150,000 babies are being born annually with SCD, and 25 percent of the adult populations of reproductive age are carrying the disease.
He said that more than 50 percent of the babies die before their fifth birthday.
Ehanire said that due to stigmatization, many patients hide children suffering from the disease and this makes it impossible to address.
He said that for the country to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 3, 4 and 10, Nigeria must address the issue of sickle cell disease.
Ehanire said that government has adopted universal newborn screening to achieve its goals on sickle cell disease.
He said that the country is putting strategies in place to address the disease.
The Director of University of Abuja Centre of Excellence for Sickle Cell research and training, Prof. Obiageli Nnodu, said that the current curative therapy available for SCD is bone marrow transplantation.
Nnodu said it has the drawbacks of exorbitant cost outside the reach of most patients, and only two or three centres offer such service in the country.
“This necessitates simple, effective and scalable tools to address the burden wholistically.
“These tools encompass health education, early diagnosis, training of different cadres of healthcare providers on established standards of care and stakeholder engagement to drive policy and improve care,’’ she said.
Nnodu said that the drivers towards effective care for the patient population require regular appraisal and identification of gaps in terms of adequacy of care, current research, prevailing government policies and diagnostic capacity.
According to her, having identified the gaps, various measures would be applied to address them with regular evaluations of the impact of these interventions.
She said that the aim of the workshop is to review the first year of the project and prepare towards year two activities, including the take-off of the newborn screening study to be led by SPARC-NEt within the wider SPARCO.
“It is important to note that the scope of the workshop also covers engagement of relevant stakeholders,’’ she said.