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Surviving Sickle Cell Anemia in Nigeria Today

Sickle Cell Anemia to those that are not aware of what it really is, has everything to do with an inherited disorder, an anomaly that is also known as sickle cell disease which cripples the red blood cells and makes them sticky, stiff, to a level that it interrupts the proper blood flow in the patient’s body.

For instance, any gene inherent in an individual is from either one of his/her parents, and the possibility of having a male with AA genotype and a female with sickle cell anemia SS, mate and reproduce their offspring, the outcome would be children with sickle cell characteristics.

But in Nigeria today and other parts of the world, the scary thing is that some people in the rural areas are not necessarily aware of their health conditions as there is no proper test conducted to determine if they have the disease or otherwise.

Ways to Manage Sickle Cell Anemia

However, a secret to combatting the disease is like any other terminal ailment. It should be detected earlier before getting to a stage of no return.

At a critical stage, even when the disease is managed properly, the patient might not get the same opportunity to survive the adverse effects, as research in the past has attributed the outcome of any possible delay to damage and failure of vital organs in the body.

Ways To Manage Sickle Cell Anemia

These organs include the liver, kidney, lungs, heart and even the spleens of Sickle Cell Disease, SCD Carriers, which could also lead to an eventual death as a result of complications from the disorder.

But, the best means to tackle SCD is for an individual with AS genotype to avoid getting married to someone with likewise condition, and to make sure they prevent bearing children.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the best approach to tackling the disease is to focus on prevention, and treatment of complications.

Modern Treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia

While this treatment method might be expensive, it seems to be the most valuable means and pertinent enough to sustain a carrier until they get to their old age.

This treatment is known as Bone Marrow Transplant, where cells that have been badly damaged over the years or completely dead, are replaced with more healthier ones in the carrier’s body.

The hope presently in existence for those under the low-income tax bracket that would find it hard to access the treatment is the ‘Crizanlizumab’ by the National Health Service, NHS in England, which is highly likely to reach Nigeria or may have even gotten to the country and undergoing some preps to ascertain the compatibility with our patients.

This significant breakthrough by the NHS in England secured a deal to make the life-changing revolutionary treatment available for up to 5,000 patients over the next three years.

Modern Treatment For Sickle Cell Anemia

The method of administration is of a unique drug that becomes operational when it is taken by the patient and they start witnessing its effectiveness as soon as there is a ‘binding to the proteins on the red blood cells, which tend to clump together, causing a degree of blockage within the arteries.’

Subsequently, “It is that blockage that then limits the blood supply and oxygen supply, which causes profound and excruciating pain to such people,” a research report has posited.

The researchers in this field have argued that the drug prescription to carriers would demand an immediate switch in their lifestyles, as they would be required to start following certain quality practices and cut of some eating and socialising habits.

A very remarkable result from this experiment is that the rates of hospital attendance to accidental emergency will likely reduce by 40 per cent due to the availability of this drug.

At this juncture, the best advice to the Nigerian Government, private individuals and non-governmental organisation, NGO, is to see how they can key into the initiative and establish a bone marrow transplant centre in at least all the geopolitical zones in the country, make the treatment accessible and affordable to the low income earners as well.

Sources: emedicine.medscape, scancainc.org

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