Prof. Dominic Osaghae, Dean, School of Clinical Medicine, Igbinedion University Okada, Edo, says Nigeria has the highest concentration of victims of sickle cell disease in the world.
Osaghae spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on the sidelines of his inaugural lecture.
The theme of his lecture is “The Roadblocks on the Highway to Survival of Children: The Intervention of a Pediatrician”.
Osaghae, a professor of pediatrics and child health, defined sickle cell disorders as a hereditary condition and non-communicable disease.
He said: “It is the result of a child’s inheritance of the sickle hemoglobin gene either in a double dose (homozygous sickle cell anaemia) or in a combination with other usual hemoglobin (double heterozygous sickle cell disorders.’’
He said that the disease causes high morbidity and mortality in children during all stages of childhood.
According to him, it is estimated to affect 12 million people worldwide, Nigeria account for four million, adding that 25 per cent of Nigerians are carriers of the gene.
The physician explained that the disease “contributes up to 5 per cent of under -5 deaths in Africa; 9 per cent of such deaths in West Africa, and up to 16 per cent of under-5 deaths in individual West Africa countries”.
According to him, these statistics indicate that the sickle cell disease is probably the most neglected public health disorder with serious morbidly and mortality.
He said that the disease contributes significantly to impeding a safe and comfortable journey on the highway to survival of Nigerian children.
The professor explained that the disease was characterised by diverse problems such as infections and infestations, recurrent bone pains, anaemia crises, organ failure, among others.
Osaghae said that the disease has no readily available cure.
He, however, noted that its management “requires life- long supportive and maintenance care, involving counseling, use of routine drugs and disease modifying agents, hydration and blood transfusion, analgesics and antibiotics in general health maintenance in the management of crises”.