World Sickle Cell Day 2019: The Role of the Youth in Addressing the Prevalence of Sickle Cell Anemia in Nigeria
June 19th every year is celebrated as “World Sickle Cell Day” all over the world by Civil Society Organization government bodies and other stakeholders. As part of our commitments in mitigating the prevalence of Sickle Cell Anaemia in Nigeria, we join other CSOs all over the World in ensuring that sickle cell awareness and sensitizing is taken to the public most especially those at the rural areas so as to promote Universal Health Coverage of all and also on early genotype screening.
These were made possible through our collaboration with one radio (network) and Pro-Life Sickle Cell Foundation. The CEO of one radio, Dr Raymond Richman contributed in organising a Live media broadcast on Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Orient FM and TV Station and also on 1Radio FM.
World Sickle Cell week kicked off on Wednesday, with a radio program which was streamed Live started by 9:05 am, listeners were also allowed to call in on a live radio program on IBC/Orient FM where the Executive Director Life Transformation for Africa Initiative Mr Ezeani Chiemezie, the CEO Pro-Life Sickle Cell Foundation Mr Uche Udensi, Miss. Adaobi Adaobi and Mrs Kayode from Pro-Life Sickle Cell Foundation had the privilege to be on their Live program “Matters Arising”.
We were able to enlighten the public on what Sickle Cell is all about and the need to check their genotype before going into any relationship and the role of the youths towards mitigating the prevalence of Sickle Cell Anaemia. We also stressed that those with the ‘SS’ traits should not be discriminated because they are also humans like you and I. Also we called on parents to always play an advisory role towards their wards & neighbours in ensuring that the issue of genotype screening is taken very seriously.
By 9:30 am the phone lines were opened for the general public to contribute and ask questions on the issue of Sickle Cell. A caller by name Mr Paul Martins asked if there are drugs to cure sickle cell disorder, Mr Uche responded by saying that no drugs for its cure the only cure available in through stem cell/bone marrow transplant which have a slim chance of success, he also went further to say that there are drugs to manage the situation if need be.
Another caller Mr Charles Obioha called in to suggest that why not stop the marriage of those with Sickle Cell Disease (SS) from getting married, as a way of eradication the disease. The ED LIFT4Africa advice that it’s best that carriers (AS, SS, AC, SC) marry someone with ‘AA’ genotype and avoid relying on miracles and also avoid taking chances by marrying someone with the same genotype. Mr Michael Nwosu asked to be clarified if the SS disease is an African/Tropical disease which Mr Udensi said it is common in among the Caucasian and Asian Decent, but more prevalent in Africa.
The last caller for the day Mr Onuigbo Charles pointed out that the major reason why Sickle Cell Anaemia is high in Africa is that people do not adhere to rules and regulations. They prefer taking chances and also stick to myth putting aside science. Mr Udensi agreed to this, added that ignorance is another factor. Mr Ezeani concluded by saying that various social vices such unprotected sex and going into a relationship without prior knowledge of one’s genotype was another reason why the prevalence remains high among Africans and Nigerians in particular, which stands at the top as the country with the highest Prevalence. The program ended at 9:45 am. After which we went for a group photograph with the management of orient FM. They expressed their satisfaction with the program and promised to permit us to have a Live TV program the next day for more awareness creation.
The next day, 20th June 2019, Mr Udensi from Pro-Live Sickle Cell Foundation, Mr Ezeani Chiemezie, and Judith Ihezue from LIFT4Africa went for the TV program which started by 9:00 am after the newspaper review on morning grill (IBC Orient TV Station). Another round of sensitization and awareness campaign was done. This time around we call on the federal Govt. to mandate all States in Nigeria to follow the footstep of Anambra State government in passing a bill prohibiting SS carriers from marrying each other. While also calling on Religious authorities to discourage the union of Sickle Cell Carriers (prohibiting Carriers from getting married). While advising the youth to always check their genotype as early as possible more than twice to be sure/certain.
On Sunday 22nd we took the advocacy to 3 churches (Christ Embassy, St. Peter Anglican Church and Christ Renewal Ministry) at Oguta LGA, Imo State. The outreach was to re-emphasize the importance of early genotype screening and the need to reconfirm one’s genotype so as to ensure certainty.
The congregation from the churches, after the talk, thanked us (The team from LIFT 4 Africa & 1Radio Oguta) for coming down to Oguta for the purpose of educating and creating awareness amongst them on the need to know their genotype.
The program ended at 1:25 pm and we all converged at 1Radio for a brief meeting with the Director of the radio station after which the team from Owerri (LIFT4Africa) departed. That also brought a close to the end of the Sickle Cell Awareness Week.