• …As Nigeria develops drug to counter process

Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has disclosed that Sickle Cell Disease, SCD, is preventable.

Ehanire said this at the recently held sixth International Symposium on Sickle Cell held in Kampala, Uganda.
This was contained in a press release signed by Mrs Boade Akinola, director, Media and Public Relations, of the ministry and sent to Nigerian Pilot yesterday.
In his keynote address at the conference tagged ‘6th REDAC International Sickle Cell Conference,’ the minister described the occasion as an opportunity to assess Africa’s control and management strategies for sickle cell disease with the aim of reducing the burden in sub-Sahara Africa.
Also, the release stated that Ehanire said that since SCD is quite preventable thus the Nigerian government’s strong support for routine screening for SCD traits and ‘know your genotype’ campaign to increase awareness.
Speaking further on Nigeria’s effort in stemming the disease, the minister informed the gathering that Nigeria’s National Policy and Strategic Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases was revised to include SCD, adding that the purpose was to ensure comprehensive care for all SCD patients, provide evidence-based information, institute a database for universal newborn screening and genetic counselling, and strengthen the structure and capabilities for patient management and to conduct research.
He noted that Nigerian government had developed and patented a potent SCD management drug named NIPRISAN (a chemotherapeutic agent which stimulates healthy production of foetal haemoglobin to counteract the sickling process).
NIPRISAN has been clinically tried and licenced for commercial production, the minister informed.
Also, despite risks and side effects of bone marrow transplant surgery, Dr. Ehanire pointed out that this feat had been performed in Nigerian tertiary health institutions which continued to explore the feasibility of offering routine bone marrow transplant surgery.
Ehanire then urged African governments to close ranks, cooperate and collaborate to develop a strategy to confront the genetic disease burden in Africa.
He said, “SCD is our problem, hence we must take ownership, pool resources and bring all hands on deck in a coordinated fashion, especially in the area of research, health system strengthening in SCD education, prevention and management.
“As a country with the highest SCD burden in the world, Nigeria is prepared to play a role in bringing all actors together for that concerted response,” the minister pledged.
The three-day conference drew speakers from Canada, Congo, France, USA, Jamaica and United Kingdom amongst others.


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