Since 2008, World Sickle Cell Awareness Day has been held annually, in order to help increase public knowledge and raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and the struggles sufferers and their families go through. This year, the CRSG partnered with Sickle Cell Support Network and other stakeholders as they celebrate the day in Calabar the State Capital.
According to the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong, SCD affects millions of people around the world, including both adults and children. It is a potentially fatal disease and is one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in various African countries.
The Cross River State Government in collaboration with the Oyiji Odey Foundation recently unveiled the first Sickle Cell Clinic in the State in a bid to give succor to Sickle Celler patients in the State.’
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited disease in which the red blood cells in our body are shaped in sickles with jagged edges as opposed to smooth ovals or discs. People with SCD have red blood cells that contain mostly haemoglobin S, an abnormal type of haemoglobin. The most common form of SCD is sickle cell anaemia, and in Nigeria, over 150,000 children are born annually with symptomatic sickle cell anaemia, 1-in-4 people are healthy carriers of the disease. Prevention through Premarital genetic test and counseling by a trained Genetics Counselor is key. A Genetics Counselor can answer questions about the risk and explain the choices that are available.
The Founder of the Sickle Cell Support Network and lead convenor of the sickle cell day rally and fund raising symposium in Calabar, Mrs. Deborah Ononokpono who also lost her twin brother to SCD at only 6yrs old said ‘as a person living with SCD, it it important to create awareness on the pain we go through daily as victims which also results in depression, fear and anxiety for some other people as well.
World Sickle Cell Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 in order to increase the awareness about the sickle cell disease and its cure among the common public. It was celebrated first time on 19th of June in 2009. Sickle Cell disease has become a common and foremost genetic disease worldwide which is must to cure through the fast awareness campaign, curable activities, early diagnosis and management. The theme of this year’s celebration was ‘Past, Present and Future.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Grace Enang Ukpong, Chairman Sickle Cell Club, Calabar.