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To improve the survival and quality of life for children with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), Anambra State Government in Collaboration with Global Sickle Cell Alliance Inc. (GLoSCA), Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), and its partners; Nigeria Newborn Screening initiative has instituted early newborn diagnosis to screen all newborn in the State for Sickle Cell disease.

The Screening which is a process of identifying apparently healthy individuals who may be at increased risk of a disease condition inorder to help establish standardized care that is sustainable through capacity building of service provision in a comprehensive manner from laboratory diagnosis, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

As the State Marks its World Sickle Cell Day, The Hon. Commissioner for Health Dr. Joe Akabuike stated that, with the Collaborating Partners, the State was able to install an Iso-electric Focusing (IEF) machine, microscopes, Computers and other equipment at Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH) Awka. Adding that since inception in 2012 to date, a total of five thousand one hundred and six (5106) babies have been screened and out of this number, four thousand and sixty one (4061) are AA (79.5%), One thousand and one (1001) are AS(19.5%), thirty- eight (38) are SS (0.7%) and six (6) are AC (0.1%).

Dr. Akabuike also described Sickle Cell Disease as a hereditary blood disorder in which there is not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body, a chronic, life long and debilitating disease, with many forms that can range in clinical severity from symptomatic to life threatening situation. Stressing that for one to get this disease two copies of the abnormal gene is required.

Advising the general public to be careful in selecting their Spouse/ Partners as that is the only way to eliminate SCD. ‘’ know your genotype first before marriage or even making a baby, if one parent has SCD and the other has Sickle cell trait every child has 50% chance of having SCD and 50% chance of the trait, when both parents have the trait, every child has 25% chance of SCD, 25% chance of not having the abnormal gene and 50% chance of the trait, if one parent has SCD and the other does not have the abnormal gene, then every child has 100% chance of the trait. 

The symptoms are Anaemia leading to fatigue, episode pains, jaundice, frequent infection, eye problems and this can be managed with drugs like Folic acid supplement, antimalarial and antibiotics prophylaxis in case of infection, fluid intake; drinking of water but NEVER USE IRON SUPPLEMENT’’ he said.

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