As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the June 19 World Sickle Cell Day, a nongovernmental organisation on Tuesday urged secondary school children to embrace genotype testing.
The NGO, Sickle Cell Hope Alive Foundation (SCHAF), took its projects– Know Your Genotype and Operation Catch them Young– to some secondary schools in Olomi area of Ibadan as part of the campaign against the sickle-cell disease.
The World Sickle Cell Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 in order to increase awareness about the sickle-cell disease and its cure.
Addressing the students, a medical doctor, Dr Taiwo Aderemi said that the burden of sickle-cell disease could be controlled if people make informed choices based on their knowledge of genotype before procreation.
“Sickle cell disease is an inherited genetic blood disorder, with Nigeria having the highest burden of the disease.
“Sickle cell disease is a debilitating condition which can lead to severe health problems like pain, organ damage or failure, infections, stroke, headache, liver problems and so many others,’’ he said. Aderemi, a family health physician, said that sickle-cell disease could affect any child irrespective of social and educational status. According to him, sickle-cell disease remains a major public health problem in the country due to the low-level of awareness.
“We are here today to create sufficient awareness and understanding on sickle-cell disease. “We want to let our young ones know that sickle-cell disease can be controlled if they make informed decisions before choosing partners. “There is no better time to create awareness than as they are growing up they are also advancing in knowledge.
“ If they know their genotypes as they are growing up, they will be able to make informed decisions later in life.
“They don’t have to wait till they are about to get married before they know their genotypes and that way we can reduce the number of children born with sickle-cell disease and protect the future generation,” he said.
He also advised parents to give their children health education early in life to help them make informed decisions on procreation later in life.
Mr Abayomi Odetunde, an adjunct volunteer with the foundation, said people with sickle-cell disease must remain hydrated at all times and avoid stress to stay healthy and prevent painful crises. (NAN)