A programme targeted at conducting free screening for over 16000 new babies per year on Sickle Cell Diseases SCD in Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory has been launched at the University of Abuja.
It is aimed at reducing under-five mortality, support in achieving Nigeria’s sustainable development goals and promote the quality of life for all those affected with SCD.
The Director Center of Excellence for Sickle Cell Disease Research and Training, University of Abuja and the National Coordinator of the programme Consortium on Newborn Screening in Africa CONSA Professor Obiageli Nnodu said due to lack of public knowledge on the cause of SCD, and misinformation that it could be spread between individuals, there is intense stigma around SCD.
She said according to WHO, up to 15% of mortality in children younger than 5 years of age is due to SCD and stressed that new born screening allows families to know their baby’s status and seek low-cost interventions that can reduce adverse health outcomes.
According to Professor Nnodu CONSA’s mission is to evaluate the effectiveness of newborn screening and early therapeutic interventions for babies with SCD in Ghana, Kenya, Libraria, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Stressing that through the leadership of hematologists and public health officials in these countries, CONSA introduces standard of care practices for screening and early intervention therapies such as antibiotic prophylaxis and immunizations at participating institutions, screening up to 16,000 babies per year in each country and providing clinical follow-up for babies living with SCD.
She affirmed that the Abuja and Kaduna sites will begin screening newborns and entering any who test positive for SCD into clinical follow-up. Staff will examine the long term health outcomes of people with SCD up to the age of five, providing low cost interventions and education to the family.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Primary Health Care Board, Dr Ewot Indayo said the lunch of the Consortium on Newborn Screening in Africa provides a great opportunity to deal with Sickle Cell disease and described SDC as a non communicable disease that is not infectious and can be contracted through genetic transmission where the mother and having the gen and transfer it to the newborn.
Dr Indayo said when parents are properly enlightened it would help in identifying babies with SDCs to increase their well being.