By Arinola Kolade
A total of 200 children in Ojodu area of Lagos recently underwent genotype testing as part of activities to educate and care for children living with Sickle Cell Disorder. The exercise was conducted by Crimsonbow Sickle Cell Initiative and Ojodu Local Government. The children accompanied by their mothers were from public schools in the Local Government. Crimsonbow Sickle Cell Initiative also gave gifts like sweaters and water bottles to the children just as the children were engaged in the quiz competition.
Addressing the children, Dr Emoruwa Enefo from Eko Hospital, Lagos, who enlightened them on the prevention of sickle cell disorder, said it is very important for the children to know their genotype.
“This is necessary so that children with AS will not make the mistake of marrying someone with AS because two people with AS will produce one child with SS. She said the four categories of haemoglobin available are AA, AS, SS and SC. According to her, AA can marry anyone with any of the other three categories.
Enefo also hinted the children that it was wrong to discriminate against children with SS because being SS carrier was not a death sentence. She said children with SS can survive and live a healthy life when they are given adequate care.
The medical practitioner defined Sickle Cell disease as an abnormality in the blood. The symptoms of Sickle Cell in children are pains in the joints, yellow eyes and often their hands will be swollen. Sickle Cell carriers often find it difficult to cope with cold weather. However, the good news according to Enefo, was that the cost of drugs used to take care of Sickle Cell is not prohibitive.
A spokesperson for Crimsonbow Sickle Cell Initiative, Ms Timi Edwin, said the organisation was founded about three years ago to give hope to children with Sickle Cell and their parents.
Edwin said they are yet to get enough sponsorship because most people have a wrong idea that they need a huge amount of money to sponsor a programme organised by the NGO.
“Anyone or organization can sponsor or support us with any amount even as low as N2,000 we want people to know that anyone can send their widow’s mite to us and we shall acknowledge it”
She disclosed that Nigeria has the largest population of Sickle Cell carriers in the world and called on the government to show more interest in helping children with Sickle Cell Disorder.