Intending couples have been urged to embrace genotype test before marriage as to reduce sickle cell disorder cases in the state and its attendant unfavourable consequences.
The Permanent Secretary in Delta State Ministry of Health, Dr Ejiro Ogheneaga, made the call today in Asaba during a state-wide broadcast as part of activities to mark the 2021 World Sickle Cell Disorder Day celebrated every 17th June.
Ogheneaga stated that sickle-cell disorder was a genetic health problem prevalent among children of black race, saying statistics showed that worldwide, Nigeria has the highest incidence of the disorder with one in every four Nigerian having the sickle-cell trait.
He blamed the prevalence in the disorder on ignorance, particular among those in rural communities and poverty.
“Several challenges are faced due to ethical, religious and ethnic issues with respect to genetic counseling and genetic planning. People are still very ignorant on the use of genotype tests and its relevance.
“Poverty and lack of appropriate knowledge have been identified as key factors responsible for the high death rate among sickle cell sufferers. Several of our mothers and sisters particularly in the rural areas get into marriages without being aware of the importance of genotype test.
“Many lack the financial means to check their genotype. When their children are born with sickle cell disorder, they resort to quacks for solution. This often results in serious consequences which are usually grave,” he stated.
Enumerating the state government’s intervention at addressing the disorder, Dr Ogheneaga said that government introduced the state health insurance scheme as part of its SMART Agenda programme to enable those affected with the disorder have access to treatment and care.
He added that the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the ‘O5 Initiative’ of Dame Edith Okowa, wife of the state governor has upgraded 15 sickle cell clinics in government hospitals in the state.
According to him, the centre in Asaba was one of the best and most equipped Sickle Cell Referral Centers in the country, adding that it was aimed at bringing succour to sufferers of this disorder.
The permanent secretary further said that due to the activities of the 05 Initiative, over 3,000 sickle cell disorder patients had benefited through the provision of free drugs for patients, created awareness and sensitization on sickle cell disorder, supplied medical equipment in sickle cell disorder clinics in Delta State.
Sickle cell disorder is a health challenge which affect sufferers red blood cells and it is called a genetic condition because it is passed on from a parent meaning one is born with it; which means it cannot be transmitted from one person to the other.
This disorder causes the normal round and flexible blood cells to become stiff and become sickle shaped, stopping the blood cells and the oxygen they carry in the body from being able to move freely thereby causing pains and sometimes episodes of severe pain which is referred to as sickle cell crises which can be treated.
However, treatment of sickle cell disorder mostly focuses on prevention and treatment of complications.