The World Health Organisation said no fewer than one hundred and fifty thousand children born in Nigeria carry sickle cell disease, one of the world’s most common genetic disorders.
Correspondent Ikenna Amaechi follows the work of one team whose effort to ease the pain for sickle cell warriors got recognised at this year’s United Nations General Assembly.
Up to sixteen percent of under-five mortality cases in Nigeria are traced to sickle cell anaemia, with nearly three percent of the country’s population affected. Nat SoundFor Mr. Victor Nwabudike-Okwuosa and his wife in Okpanam, Delta state, Soblessed, their four-year-old son, is a sufferer.
It took years of struggle before they discovered his condition but found the cost of managing it too high. In June, fortune smiled on them when an NGO intervened.
With its state-of-the-art equipment and combined team of genetic counsellors and medical doctors to attend to patients daily, the Nwabudike-Okwuosas are not the only beneficiaries.
There are other centres established in government-owned hospitals in Agbor, Oleh, Sapele, Kwale, Okpe, Ughelli, Out-Jeremi, Umunede, Issele-Uku, Patani, Eku and Koko. The O5 Initiative is the brainchild of the wife of Delta state governor, Mrs Edith Okowa.
Though the NGO carries out other humanitarian services to help indigent people, it is their care for those battling the Sickle Cell Disease that caught the attention of organisations at its 74th ordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly.
It was there the ’05 Initiative attracted interest from The Initiative for Global Development – a US-based organisation founded by Bill Gates. Sr. in 2003.
Given its reach and the size of its work, the O5 Initiative is now looking to take up a life of its own. One reason the disorder has persisted is the lack of adequate enlightenment.
The care for people with sickle cell disease may include infection prevention with vaccination and antibiotics, high fluid intake, folic acid supplementation, and pain medication and blood transfusion. A small percentage of people have been cured by a transplant of bone marrow cells.PTC