A physician, Dr Andrew Ekharogbon, has urged the Federal Government to a make law for everybody to test his or her genotype, in order to reduce the burden of sickle cell disease in the country.
Ekharogbon, a senior medical officer at Vicar Hope Foundation, made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia on Friday.
NAN reports that the Foundation is a non-governmental organisation (NGO), for the management of sickle cell disease.
He noted that the inability of the government to make such law had posed a major threat towards eradicating the disease in the society.
Ekharogbon said that sickle cell disease was a major health concern in Nigeria, stressing that statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO), showed that 150,000 are born with the abnormality every year in the country.
According to him, higher burden of sickle cell disease is found in Africa, especially in Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, with Nigeria having the highest burden in the world.
He emphasised that Ghana had about 14,000 sickle cell children born per year, while that of the U.S. was about 2,000.
“So the disease is a real burden as it does not only drain the patient or the family but also the economy of the nation.
“The government should make it as a law that before a child gets admission into secondary school or somebody gets married, he or she should check his or her genotype from a well-recognised laboratory or hospital.
“The penalty should be obviously pronounced for the individual, the laboratory that will produce fake result and the church or any group that will wed the individual must be punished according to the law.”
He commended the Abia Government for passing the ”Abia State Identification of Blood Group and Genotype Law (2018),” adding that it would help to drastically reduce the burden of sickle cell in the state.
He urged other states to key into the initiative that Abia had started, insisting that the disease could be prevented and totally eradicated.
The medical practitioner also identified poor sensitisation as a major burden toward the fight against the disease.
He, therefore, called on the federal government to carry out good sensitisation across the states.
According to him, a lot of people are not aware of the importance of knowing their genotype, nor what sickle cell disease is all about. (NAN)