Professor Chinedum Babalola, VC, Chrisland University , Abeokuta in Ogun State, has called for the establishment of Sickle Cell Disease(SCD) Research and Treatment Centres , to reduce the burden of the disease.
Babalola, a member of the Board of Trustees, Sickle Cell Hope Alive Foundation (SCHAF), made this call in Ibadan.
She spoke at the ‘’Dissemination of the Findings of the Study of Prevalence of HBV, HCV and HIV among individuals with SCD’’.
The vice-Chancellor said that Nigeria , being the epicentre of SCD with estimated 150,000annual births of newborn with SCD , only has one SCD research centre with little or no funding from the government.
‘’The funding of this study was possible , because we got a grant and support from an international donor, GILEAD Sciences, U.S.
‘’For how long are we going to continue to rely on foreigners and International donors’ funding for a disease that is endemic in Nigeria?
‘’Many times,we go cap in hand to get supports and treatments for people who live with SCD.
‘’We need the support of the government in treatment, management, research and awareness of SCD, if we are ever going to reduce the prevalence of SCD in the country’’, Babalola said.
A Consultant Paediatrician, Prof. Biobele Brown, urged the National Assembly to initiate a Bill that would improve the research, treatment and awareness of SCD in the country.
Brown said that this would guarantee affordable healthcare for people living with SCD to make meaningful contributions to society.
Earlier, the Founder of SCHAF, Prof. Adeyinka Falusi, said that the study of the Prevalence of HBV, HCV and HIV among individuals with SCD was the largest SCD cohort study ever done in Nigeria.
Adeyinka said,’’ This study is designed to determine the prevalence of Hepatitis B Virus(HBV), Hepatitis “C’ Virus(HCV) and HIV infections, among individuals with and without SCD in the South-West, Nigeria.
The study was undertaken to clarify the hypothesis that people living with SCD are at a higher risk of viral infections that can be contracted through blood transfusion.
‘’Due to anaemia that is associated with the disease, affected individuals are transfused blood more often than other members of the population.’’
She said that the study which commenced in 2018, revealed that the prevalence of HBV, HCV, and HIV was lower in people with SCD than in those without.
‘’These results indicate that there is improved and effective transfusion safety measures in our hospitals in the South-West, Nigeria.
‘’ Caregivers are now more informed to take their wards to register healthcare services than in the past.
‘’Blood transfusion now has a minimal risk to contacting these infections in South-est Region of Nigeria,’’ she said.