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Doris Ukaonu

To commemorate ‘World Sickle Cell Day’, the United Nations (UN) in 2008 choose the 19th of June to create awareness for the disease both at the National and International level.

The sole purpose of the awareness is to increase public knowledge of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). On this day, we are reminded on the struggles sufferers go through with their families.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited disorder that causes the red blood cells to be C-shaped and get stuck in blood vessels, blocking them. This blockage is described as a ‘pain crisis or sickle crisis’.

Here’s how it is transmitted:

There are a few genotypes that determine your traits and the traits of your future children. They are AA, AS, AC, and SS.

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Chart Showing genotype compactibility for intending couples. (Source- Boma Peter's Blog)

When both parents have sickle cell trait (SCT), there is a 1 in 4 chance that each of their children will have  sickle cell disease (SCD). People who are incompatible based on their genotype have a big risk of giving birth to a child with sickle cell. This significantly reduces the child’s lifespan and makes them struggle physically.

Dr. Bosede Afolabi, a specialist practitioner who has dedicated most of her working life to studying the disease said that Africa has the highest prevalence rates, with 20 – 30% in some countries. Nigeria has the highest number of people suffering from SCD in the world; according to the The United Stated Canters For Disease and Control, 100,000 children are born with the disorder yearly.

SCD continues to be a major global public health issue. It remains a major killer of infants, children , and adults in the developing world. Last year, popular Nigerian presenter, Tosyn Bucknor(Area mama) died from complications of sickle cell. The goal of World Sickle Cell Day is not just raising awareness of SCD in an effort to improve health outcomes for people with the disease from infancy to adulthood but to develop a well thought approach to adult sickle cell care in low-resource settings, enhance the use of community-based organizations for care access and advocacy, foster bi-directional training, establish feasibility for bringing high-risk/high-cost curative therapies to low-resource settings and a lot more.

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