By SOLA OGUNDIPE
Genetic counselling has been identified as the most cost-effective intervention for initiating sickle cell programming, particularly in resource poor countries such as Nigeria.
Coroborrating this fact in Lagos recently, during the closing ceremony of the 14th training course on genetic counselling on sickle cell disorder, Chairman, Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, Professor Olu Akinyanju, described capacity building as the cornerstone of the management and control of sickle cell disorder, which is a cardinal goal of the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria.
Akinyanju observed that the training in partnership with the MTN Foundation had boosted the relevance of the training.
”The role of genetic counsellors is to ensure that their clients – affected persons, their parents or healthy carriers of the sickle gene – are provided with all the information necessary to assist them in understanding the inheritance pattern, the manifestations and the complications of SCD.
“This enables them cope better with the disorder and make informed life-style decisions. Trained counsellors also help to establish and run support and advocacy associations such as Sickle Cell Clubs, create awareness and promote the development of dedicated Sickle Cell Clinics and other appropriate facilities in their communities.
He said published findings have shown that when affected persons are followed up in dedicated Sickle Cell Clinics and provided with free access to genetic counselling and required treatment, illness and death rates can be greatly reduced.
In his address during the occasion, Director, MTNF, Mr. Dennis Okoro, said the passing out of the new set of counsellors.brought the total number since the collaboration with the Sickle Cell Club to 209. “This new set of health workers who have passed through this programme are now ready to join their colleagues already on the field to combat the scourge by educating couples on the disorder, its probabilities, limitations, choices open to them, and the potential consequences of chosen options,” he pointed out.
Core trainers and facilitators recognised included Ayo Otaigbe, a director on the board of the Sickle Cell Foundation and current President of the Sickle Cell Club of Lagos; Comfort Okolo, Doris Nworisa and Flora Binitie.