By Chukwudi Nwauba

Awka, Nov. 26, 2020 (MOI) Anambra State Government has inaugurated a monitoring committee on Sickle Cell Disease Control and Eradication.

Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, while inaugurating the committee said that Anambra was the only state in Nigeria to enact a law to help to protect people living with sickle cell anaemia.

Dr Okpala commended Gov. Willie Obiano for granting assent to the enactment of the law by the Anambra State House of Assembly and Mrs Aisha Edward, who also campaigned for the passage of the law.

The inauguration was performed at the office of the Commissioner for Health, Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka.

The Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder that affects haemoglobin; the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body.

Dr Okpala noted that the life span of SCD patients were usually cut short in many countries in Africa including Nigeria by societal stigmatisation, poor dieting, poor health systems and others inimical health effects.

“World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that in countries like Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria the prevalence is between 20 to 30 per cent due to absence of enlightenment and noncompliance.  

“Anambra State Government declared a goal of eradicating sickle cell anaemia in the state as well as protecting those living with it from discrimination, stigmatisation, abuse and exploitation.

“And so, toward achieving this, a law was enacted and it came into force on April 30, 2019.

“To anchor the operational aspects of enforcement/compliance to the stipulations of the law, this monitoring committee set up, will be part of the Ministry of Health,’’ he said.

According to the commissioner, the primary objective of the team is to ensure that Government backed-law to control and eradicate sickle cell disease in Anambra state will be enforced with the highest level of compliance.

“Liaise with the President’s-Generals of each town union to conduct house to house investigation and enquiries in order to find out couples and children, who have not undergone the genotype test. 

“Conduct public awareness programmes in the form of workshops and outreaches in order to enlighten the populace on ways of eradicating sickle cell disease.

“Liaise with parents/guardians through the President-General of each town union in order to enforce the verification of SCS certificate at the point of collection of bride prices of their children or wards.

“Liaise with religious bodies and registry in order to enforce the verification of SCS certificate of persons to be wedded.’’

Leader of the committee Mrs Amaka Ezeno, a lawyer commended the state Government for giving them the opportunity to serve while also pledging total commitment of members toward executing the functions of the office. The committee was made up of a representative of the association of people living with sickle cell, haematologist, psychiatrist, chemical pathologist, paediatricians, legal practitioners and the commissioner for Health. (MOI)

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