*Say it’s a terrible disease
*Abia House enacts law making it compulsory for individuals to insert genotype status on ID cards
BY ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA- WORRIED by the pain sickle cell anaemia carriers go through as well as its negative impact on their life, Abia State women have mounted an intensive enlightenment campaign against the disease, saying it needs to be eliminated.
It is estimated that 150,000 babies are born each year with sickle cell anaemia in the country, the families going through hell taking care of them.
To strengthen the enlightenment, the wife of Abia State governor, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu, mobilised groups of Abia women to participate in the celebration of this year’s World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, with the theme: Working together to end the cycle, which was held in Aba. It featured lectures on how to manage the dreaded disease.
The women led by the wife of the governor had earlier embarked on awareness walk on some streets of Aba and later went for the main programme which featured series of talks on sickle cell anaemia.
Addressing the gathering, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu, whose pet project, Vicar Hope Foundation, has set up two sickle cell centres in Umuahia and Aba, explained that the purpose of World Sickle Cell Awareness Day celebration is “to create awareness and stimulate interest in matters related to sickle cell prevention, management, research for cure, and the challenges faced by carriers of the disease.”
According to her, sickle cell is very difficult to cure, however, “it can only be managed when patient and caregivers are very careful with their health.
“It is really a story of pain and loss. But the beautiful part of it all, is that it can be avoided if we take a little extra care to know our status,” Mrs. Ikpeazu said.
She said that “sickle cell disorder causes the onset of many other diseases and wreaks havoc on an individual and a family,” describing it as “a terrible disease.”
The Governor’s wife, however, blamed the cause of the disease on poor information, hence the need for the intensive awareness campaign embarked on by her foundation and other volunteers.
She commended the Abia State House of Assembly for passing a law making it compulsory for Abians, especially students and pupils, to insert their genotype status on their identity cards and expressed hope that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu would soon give assent to the law.
According to her, “we now have a law, a piece of legislation that would go a long way to arrest the disease. The law spells out the commitment of government and its agencies towards realising a sickle cell-free state,” and commended Abia lawmakers for enacting the law which she said would go a long way in saving future generations of Abians.
“The law also places a huge responsibility on the populace especially would-be parents, to take essential steps to ensure they do not bring children into this world to suffer.
“I challenge our parents and other stakeholders especially those in the health sector to play the vital role of seeing that this bill gets the expected result.
“Vicar Hope Foundation and our partners are totally committed to providing a solution for the disease through our medical facilities, sensitisation and counselling.
“We already have two sickle cell care centres. Our dream is to place a centre in each local government area and ward and have the impact reach the grassroots,” Mrs. Ikpeazu said.