By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday moved to put an end to the death of about 100,000 babies from Sickle Cell in Nigeria every year, making Nigeria number one sickle cell endemic country in Africa.
Statistics showed that, Nigeria remains the country with the highest burden of sickle cell disorder in the world as over 40 million Nigerians are carriers of the sickle cell gene and over 150,000 babies are born with it every year.
Despite the highest rate, there is no single legal framework in Nigeria for the prevention, control and treatment of the disease and to address this, the House Representatives is working on a Bill for an Act to Establish the National Agency For Sickle Cell Disease and other Heritage Blood Disaster for the Treatment, Prevention Control and Management of the Disease in Nigeria.
The Bill which has passed through first and second readings on the floor of the House was Wednesday subjected to Public Hearing along with the Bill for an Act to establish Federal Medical Centre Hong, Adamawa State.
The bill Sponsored by Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun), the Bill seeks to improve the lives of people suffering from Sickle cell disease, recognize the disease as a serious and debilitating illness, and allocate new resources to monitoring, researching and treating it.
Bill particularly seeks to: “formulate and implement policies, guidelines and strategies on sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders;
facilitate the engagement of all tiers of government and all sectors on issues of sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders prevention, care and support.
“Advocate for the mainstreaming of sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders interventions into all sectors of the country; promote, improve and support research and learning in sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders”.
While declaring the public hearing on the Bill and that on an Act to Establish the Federal Medical Centre Hong in Adamawa, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said both proposed legislations are in line with the 9th House legislative agenda to make interventions in the health sector.
“We set out a Legislative Agenda that outlined the scope of our governing ambitions…In that document, we made commitments to improve access to healthcare services for all our nation’s people, increase funding for healthcare research, improve the mechanisms for training and providing for our healthcare professionals amongst other things”, Gbajabiamila said.
In a presentation, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire said the Department of Public Health within the Federal Ministry of Health which currently deals with non-communicable diseases be strengthened to continue with the work which falls within its mandate.