Research report has it that Nigeria is the largest population of people with Sickle Cell Disease in the world, with over 150,000 babies born with the serious ailment yearly.
This was disclosed by a Pharmacist of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Mr Lanre Alege, during a lecture on June edition of the keep fit exercise for staff of the hospital at the Kwara stadium on Saturday.
The topic which was, ‘Sickle Cell Disease’ was carefully chosen because June 19 of every year is celebrated as world Sickle Cell Day, and Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate it on Friday.
He suggested anecdotally that only five per cent of the children with Sickle Cell Disease live past the age of 10 in Nigeria, compared to over 96 per cent surviving into adulthood in the United Kingdom and the United States.
He furthermore, added that Sickle Cell Disease is a genetic disorder due to the presence of an abnormal form of haemoglobin in the red blood cells, called haemoglobin S (Hb S) instead of haemoglobin A (Hb A).
Alege, who is the Coordinator of the programme, hinted that the Red Blood Cells may contain normal haemoglobin AA only, a mixture of A and S (Hb AS) or S only.
“Persons with AS haemoglobin have sickle cell traits, and are referred to as sickle cell carriers, while those with haemoglobin SS only (Hb SS) suffers from sickle cell disease.
“Those with AA are normal without sickle cell traits.
“Haemoglobin in the red blood cell is responsible for the transportation of oxygen in the body,” he said.
Since there is no cure for sickle cell disease, Alege listed the most important components of the treatment which include; early interventions with analgesics, antibiotics, rest, good nutrition, folic acid supplementation and high fluid intake.
“At times, invasive procedures such as blood transfusion and surgery may be needed. Sickle Cell Disease is completely preventable,” he added.
Allege stressed that for the prevention of the disease, carriers should not marry AS or SS.
He urged that Churches and Mosques should refuse the joining of such people in marriage. (NAN)