Pfizer Seeks Improved Efforts in combating Sickle Cell in Nigeria

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The need for accelerating efforts in combating the prevalence of sickle-cell disease in Nigeria and the challenges patients and families face in managing the disease has again been reiterated, as it is estimated that about 6 million Nigerians are living with the disease while 150,000 babies are born with sickle cell annually.

Sickle cell disease, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is a type of haemoglobin disorders, which are inherited blood diseases that affect oxygen transmission in the body. It is characterised by a modification in the shape of the red blood cell from a smooth, donut-shape into a crescent or half moon shape.

With approximated 5 per cent of the world’s population carrying the trait genes for haemoglobin disorders, mainly, sickle-cell disease and thalassaemia, the global health institution has called for increased advocacy on management and prevention of the disease.

Commending the leadership of Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, all relevant stakeholders and most importantly the sickle cell warriors and care givers, who have displayed solidarity against sickle cell disorder in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, Dr Kodjo Soroh, medical director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pfizer, nevertheless identified more grounds to be covered in reaching the underserved Nigerians living with the disease.

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Soroh, who spoke at the Annual Public Lecture on sickle cell disorder marking World Sickle Cell Day 2023, usually celebrated every 19 June said “ Nevertheless, more work needs to be done to identify the underserved within the communities and reduce the prevalence estimated at 150,000 babies born with sickle cell yearly.

“I call for joint effort to prevent complications and give adequate interventions through consistent public awareness and education, early diagnosis, and prompt interventions.

“Sickle cell disorder though categorised as rare disease, however, is not rare in our society because Nigeria is the epicentre of sickle cell disease as 4-6million people are living with this disorder. Most of us are passionate about sickle cell disorder and many of us have one or two personal stories to tell about the disease.

“Today, we are not where we used to be decades ago before the evolution of science when affected children were termed “ogbanjes” due to the high mortality rate of babies born with the disease. Nowadays, science has significantly evolved to reduce mortality and morbidity through mass media campaigns, counseling, early diagnosis, and breakthrough medicines”.

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He elucidated on the commitment of Pfizer to change a billion lives per year, which propelled their partnership with Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria to celebrate the World Sickle Cell Disease Day and stand in solidarity with the warriors.

The medical practitioner urged the government and all relevant stakeholders to support this course to improve quality of lives of the patients and save more lives because indeed sickle cell disorder is not a death sentence

In his contribution, Chief Tunde Afolabi, chairman of Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria, noted that World Sickle Cell Day is an international awareness day commemorated every year on 19 June, to alert the global public about sickle cell disease as various global and local organizstions come together during the day to promote awareness campaigns and activities which recognise the need for early diagnosis of sickle cell disease, its treatment, and preventive tips to avoid the ailment.

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He posited that sickle cell disease is one of the majorly occurring monogenic diseases with majority of them seen in low- and middle-income countries. Dedicating a specific day for sickle cell disease ensures the comprehensive awareness that could bring about change across individuals, populations, services, and systems levels.

“World Sickle Cell Disease Day, was officially adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, recognisng sickle cell disease as a public health concern and promoting education about this genetic condition in 2008. This year 2023, the World Sickle Disease Day’s theme is “Building and strengthening global sickle cell communities, formalising new-born screening and knowing your sickle cell disease status”, a call to recognise the first step (understanding the genotype in infants and adults) in fighting sickle cell disease”, he stated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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