Slum2School Drives Awareness on Sickle Cell in Makoko
On Saturday, our volunteer team together with the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF) carried out our end of the quarter medical outreach in Makoko to drive awareness on sickle cell disease (SCD). The goal of the intervention was to create awareness about the disease amongst parents and provide the children living with SCD access to healthcare.
Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria
According to research, Nigeria has one of the highest cases of sickle cell diseases (SCD), as an estimated 150,000 children are born yearly with the red blood cell disorder. It is estimated that 70-90% of children with heredity disorder will die before the age of 5. In sub-Saharan Africa, at least 650 children die daily from SCD.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) posits that about 70% of the death tolls can be avoided if people have access to cost diagnostic and treatment plans. “In previous years, we lost a number of beneficiaries who were unaware of their blood genotype or the need for specific care in some cases,” stated Ella Togun, Slum2School Africa, Programs Manager.
In Nigeria, access to public health plans and medical care that could reduce morbidity and mortality is hardly accessible. Yearly, over 300,000 babies are born with SCD, by 2050 this number is expected to reach 400,000 individuals. As of 2020, almost 90% of the world’s SCD population lives in India, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Tackling Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria
There are several public health procedures that need to be put in place to reduce the mortality rate of children with SCD living in resource-poor countries like Nigeria. Togun stated that “the medical team was able to carry out the Sickle cell intervention in some of our communities as September was Sickle Cell Awareness month,” Ms. Togun stated.
Simple preventions such as parental education on ways to detect splenic sequestration, newborn screening, and seeking medical attention for febrile children can help increase the survival rate of children living with SCD. Much like the end goal of the intervention, educating people living in rural areas about the dangers of SCD, genotype, and when to seek attention, can significantly reduce mortality rate as well as those living with SCD.
“As health practitioners, although this was not unfamiliar, we made sure we interacted extensively with Sickle cell warriors who had lived with this experience to truly understand what life is as a warrior and how best to communicate with our beneficiaries with the SS genotype,” Ms.Togun.
Partnering with SCAF in Makoko
Our volunteer team along with the SCAF team met a beneficiary who was going through a severe crisis and was receiving some care at home. We are so thankful, that with the help of @scafnigeria, the child is now receiving proper care and support.
We gave out blood genotype results to over 400 beneficiaries and community members who we had previously carried out genotype testing. For efficiency and sustainability, we trained community volunteers to become Sickle Cell champions in the communities.
Our visit highlighted a huge need. We met families with multiple warriors and a lot of people who had no idea of the implications of their reproductive decisions. There is definitely more work to be done, we need to test more people and have a larger scale sensitization. We thank our volunteers and partners at Scafnigeria who are always available to ensure access to health care for beneficiaries and members of the community.”
Are you aware of your blood genotype or that of your kids?