Consultant Hematologist, Dr Adebukola Ali, has advised Nigerians to seek knowledge on sickle cell, to break the circle of pain associated with the disease.
Ali works at the Alimosho General Hospital in the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
She gave the advice at the end of a two-day programme, organised by the hospital to commemorate the 2020 World Sickle Cell Day marked globally every year on June 19.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event is marked yearly to raise awareness and eliminate public stigmatisation associated with sickle cell disease, and to fund research to establish healthcare support for the ailment.
Ali said there was ample need for genetic counselling on reproduction by intending couples, to curb the painful experience associated with sickle cell.
“The development underscores propensity of educational awareness on genotype to all Nigerians.”
“This should go beyond foreknowledge but adequate information on what genotype is and its management.”
“There should be public campaign that should be taught in secondary schools, tertiary institutions and market places, for effective sensitisation,” she said.
NAN reports that sickle cell is an inherited blood cell disease caused by defect in the haemoglobin, which turns the red blood cell to sickle shape.
Ali explained, however, that normal red blood cells were disc-shaped but that a defect would make it rigid and sickled-shaped with a lack of oxygen in the blood.
“Most times, this irregularity causes inflammation and rapid changes to body organs,” she said.
On the effect of COVID-19 on sickle cell patients, Ali noted that patients had increased risk of getting severe form of the virus, due to their condition.
“For sickle cell patients, their tendency of reaction is higher than normal people because they have dysfunctional body system, resulting to heart disease, lung disease and others.”
“COVID -19 makes such presentation more complicated regardless of their age. It puts them at most precarious situation,” she said.
Ali advised sickle cell patients to adhere strictly to guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the health ministry to avoid coronavirus.