SOCIETY SEEKS NEW SCREENING METHOD IN DIAGNOSING SICKLE CELL DISEASE IN NEW-BORN TO REDUCE INFANT MORTALITY - Soul 2 Soul Mates Blog

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7/26/2018

SOCIETY SEEKS NEW SCREENING METHOD IN DIAGNOSING SICKLE CELL DISEASE IN NEW-BORN TO REDUCE INFANT MORTALITY


The Sickle Cell Support Society of Nigeria has called on health facilities to adopt `Point of Care Device’ in diagnosing sickle cell disease in new-born to reduce infant mortality.

A `Point of Care Device’ is a kit which detecthaemoglobinin whether AS, SS, AA or AC.

The device enables the person being tested to know if he or she has a sickle cell gene within 10 minutes.

According to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria, more than 150,000 infants are born with the disease in Nigeria annually.

Prof. Adekunle Adekile, chairman of the Society made the call on Wednesday at the end of a two-day workshop on “Sickle Cell Disease Research’’ in Abuja on Wednesday.

The workshop was organized by the University of Abuja Centre of Excellence for Sickle Cell Disease Research and Training, in collaboration with the Sickle Cell Support Society of Nigeria and Imperial College, London.

Adekile expressed concern over the low usage of the device in the country, adding that new-born screening was fundamental to the control of sickle cell disease in Nigeria.

He noted that advanced countries like the United Kingdom had made new-born testing for sickle cell compulsory as it enables them ascertain the baby’s genotype for enrolment and comprehensive care.

Adekile explained that early diagnosis of the disease in infants in these countries had changed outlook of the disease in terms of survival, adding that before now, most of these children die before age five.

“In the past, new-born diagnosis of sickle cell was very expensive, there is the need for specialised personnel and other equipment.

“Now, there are cheaper devices and simple method by which the test can be conducted, the devices are called `Point of Care Device’, and it doesn’t need high level technical expertise,’’ Adekile said.

The chairman said that sickle cell was a genetic disease common all over the world but more prevalent in Africa.

According to him, Nigeria has the highest global burden of the disease with about 150 000 children born with it annually.

“We are dealing with a very large number, and unfortunately many Nigerians are not aware of what the disease is all about, whether they are carriers of the disease or not.

“We have to start with mass education and awareness drive,’’ he said.

He noted that with early diagnosis, one could start preventive measures and the children would not develop complications that would lead to their early death.

According to him, Society has tested several children across the country and found that the devices are effective in early detection of sickle cell disease in new-born babies.

“We are hoping that stakeholders should adopt the method,’’ he said.

The convener of the programme, Prof. Obiageli Nnodu and Director, Centre of Excellence for Sickle Cell Disease Research and Training, said the workshop was a pilot study.

She said the study was to collect data on the morbidity and survival of children and adults with sickle cell disease in Nigeria which was essential for the calculation of national and global burden estimates.

“We had a small pilot grant from imperial college, London to plan on protocol on survival in sickle cell disease in Nigeria.

“We have researchers from 20 institutions across Nigeria, which was involved in sickle cell disease for some years,’’ she said.

She said the study was to collect data on the morbidity and survival of children and adults with sickle cell disease in Nigeria which was essential for the calculation of national and global burden estimates.

“We are working together to see what are the data that we have currently, how can we get appropriate data.

“If you look at the demographics of sickle cell disease you find that in infancy it was about two per cent.

“If you sample adults according to the national demographic survey you find that about 0.05 per cent of adults have sickle cell disease.

“So what has happened to the people who were identified and seen at birth, what has happened between births and when they are adult?

“We want to look at some complications and see the data, how to collect this data in a standardized manner so that we can be able to plan and advice government,’’ she said.

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