School owners, religious, traditional and community leaders have been urged to include talks on sickle cell disease and genotype testing in their programmes to break the painful and agonising cycle of raising children with the disease.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this at an event to commemorate this year’s World Sickle Cell Day with theme: ‘Shine the Light on Sickle Cell.’
He said: “Nigeria currently has the highest burden of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in the whole world ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo and India, with an estimated 25 percent of her adult population being carriers of defective S-gene.
“WHO in 2015 estimated that 2 percent of new-borns in Nigeria are affected by sickle cell anemia, giving a total of about 150,000 affected children born every year. About 50 percent to 80 percent of the estimated 150,000 infants born yearly with SCD in Nigeria die before the age of five years and those that manage to survive suffer end-organs damage which shortens their lifespan including stroke.
“The 2021 World Sickle Cell Day commemoration gives us a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the increasing burden of SCD and eliminate the negative notion associated with it as well as building synergy with civil society organisations, international institutions and development partners towards the prevention, control and management of SCD in Nigeria.”
A sickle cell survivor and founder of Beulah Sickle Cell Foundation, Mrs. Josephine Olunaike, said it was important that everybody in the country knew their genotype.
She stated: “We must educate to eradicate. If we don’t educate and increase awareness we are still going to be moving in this cycle. Concerning genotype testing, some do not know about it, some cannot afford it, and some will not go to the hospital just to have this test done. We must therefore attempt to use our financial capabilities to support free genotype testing.”
In his address, a sickle cell survivor, Mohammed, said: “Sickle cell patients on their part are still lacking adequate information on how to take care of themselves so that they could at least reduce the negative impact of this disorder on their well-being. The society on its part still lacks the necessary empathy and understanding to sickle-cell warriors. This explains why warriors are greatly discriminated against in the job market and in society generally.”
COVID-19 increasing risk factors for suicide – WHO
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, on September 10, the American office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that suicide prevention must be prioritised after 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Suicide is an urgent public health problem and its prevention must be a national priority,” said Renato Oliveira e Souza, head of the Mental Health Unit at the Pan American Health Organisation.
“We need concrete action from all elements of society to put an end to these deaths, and for governments to create and invest in a comprehensive national strategy to improve suicide prevention and care,” he added.
Globally, one in 100 deaths is by suicide, making it among the leading causes of death worldwide and the fourth leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds, after road traffic accidents, tuberculosis, and interpersonal violence.
Some of the verbal or behavioural warning signs for suicide include talking about wanting to die, feeling immense guilt or shame, or feeling like a burden to others.
Other signs are feeling empty, hopeless, or trapped, or having no reason to live, or feeling extremely sad, anxious, agitated, or full of anger.
World Suicide Prevention Day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and endorsed by WHO.
This year’s theme,‘Creating hope through action’, focuses on the need for collective action to address the issue.
Buhari lists conditions for paying doctors’ benefits
President Muhammadu Buhari has given the conditions doctors must meet to get to their outstanding benefits.
Speaking during a meeting with officials of the Nigeria Medical Association at the State House, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari condemned the doctor’s industrial action.
He said: “The lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences.”
The president added, “Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
“This Administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners, and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled.
“I learnt that some of the 12-point demand in the ongoing strike was already addressed. Though the Review of a new Hazard Allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.’’
Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors had declared indefinite strike action since Monday, August 2, 2021.
Weekly COVID-19 cases in Africa reduced by 20% – WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that the weekly COVID-19 cases have declined by more than 20 percent in Africa.
In a statement titled “COVID-19 variants prolong Africa’s pandemic wave,” WHO said: “Weekly COVID-19 cases in Africa fell by more than 20%—the sharpest seven-day decline in two months – as the third wave pandemic tapers off.
“However, the rate of deceleration is slower than the previous waves owing to the impact of more transmissible variants.
“The continent recorded more than 165 000 cases in the week ending on 5 September—23% lower than the week before, yet still higher than the weekly cases recorded at the peak of the first wave.
“The more contagious Delta variant that partly fuelled the third wave has been dominant in several countries that experienced COVID-19 surge. In southern Africa, for instance, where more than 4000 COVID-19 genome sequencing data was produced in August, the Delta variant was detected in over 70% of samples from Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa, and in over 90% from Zimbabwe.”
Also in the statement, the Africa Regional Director for the WHO, Dr. Matshidioso Moeti, said the continent was working towards increasing the rate of genomic sequencing.
“The third wave has shown us how variants can hijack the efforts to tame the pandemic. Countries must step up surveillance because, without genomic information, variants can spread undetected. You can’t fix what you don’t measure.”