Sickle cell: Why you must go for test before marriage – Ogun Commissioner advises intending couples

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Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker, has advised intending couples to go for screening to determine their blood status before going into marriage.

This, she said becomes necessary to guard against having children with sickle cell in the future.

Coker gave the advice when she declared open a 2-day training for Health Workers on Comprehensive Newborn Screening for Sickle Cell Disease in Ogun State, organized by the Ministry of Health in Abeokuta.

According to her, about 150,000 children are born annually with sickle cell disease in Nigeria.

She added that 90 per cent of the children die, making Nigeria the world’s leading contributor to infant mortality from sickle cell disease.

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“An estimated 150,000 babies are born annually in Nigeria with sickle cell disease. It is a heredity disorder that leads to death of 70%-90% infants before the age of 5. Sadly, Only a small portion of affected infants and children in Sub-Saharan Africa reach adolescence due to the gaps in our health system.”

“Very few of these children see their fifth birthdays. This is not acceptable for a disease which is preventable through early detection, appropriate interventions and management,” Coker stated.

She, however, informed that 70% of deaths from the disease could be prevented with a low-cost diagnostic and treatment plan.

The commissioner maintained that the workshop is the first comprehensive newborn screening for sickle cell disease programme in the state and part of government’s strategies to reduce under five mortality, expressing optimism of a success story regarding fight against sickle cell disease in the nearest future.

While noting that sickle cell disease is not a death sentence as it could be managed to enable the patient live a normal life to old age, Dr. Coker, however, enjoined parents, particularly interested mother’s who unfortunately have had babies born with the disease to take advantage of the screening programme which would be carried out in health facilities across the state.

The Director, Public Health Department, Ministry of Health, Dr. Festus Soyinka, in his opening remarks, said participants at the workshop would be exposed to the five components the newborn screening including testing, tracking, treatment, education and evaluation, calling on them to maximize the training opportunity given to them.

Sickle cell: Why you must go for test before marriage – Ogun Commissioner advises intending couples

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