Tackling sickle cell disease in Nigeria

Thursday 17 April 2014

Nurse with patient

Dr Baba Inusa, a consultant in blood disorders and children’s medicine, has been working closely with the NHS sickle cell screening programme to support the implementing of a similar programme in Nigeria.

Nigeria has the largest population of people with sickle cell disease in the world with around 150,000 babies born with this serious condition every year.

Dr Inusa says: “It is estimated that only 50% of children with sickle cell disease live past the age of 10 in Nigeria, compared to over 96% surviving into adulthood in the UK and the US.

“The introduction of this screening programme has been four years in the making and has finally come about thanks to the hard work and dedication of a collaboration of people including colleagues from the UK National Screening Committee, from the US and a dedicated task force in Nigeria.

“We piloted the programme back in 2009 with great success. It’s backed by the First Lady of the Nigerian state of Katsina, Dr Fatima Ibrahim Shema, who has single-handedly helped thousands of patients by offering free medication.

“We are now looking to develop and translate many of the excellent UK resources about the condition into Hausa, the local language.”

The blood cells of people with sickle cell disease can get stuck when moving through blood vessels, stopping the supply of oxygen to parts of the body. This can lead to serious complications, such as a stroke or blindness. Treatment and education about the disease can help prevent this happening.

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Last updated: April 2014

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