A Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) warrior, Mr Isiorono Igho-Orienru, has appealed to governments and stakeholders to create massive awareness among youths on the importance of checking genotype before marriage.
Igho-Orienru, also an advocate of sickle cell disease, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.
He said that governments and health organisations need to intensify more on telling the youths to know their genotypes before committing themselves to relationships.
“A lot of sickle cell disease cases today are due to lack of information on the disease then.
“Governments should spread the awareness through media organisations just like they did for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Parents and guardians of sickle cell patients need to know how to take care of their children, especially in the rural areas,” Igho-Orienru said.
He defined sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic disease of the red blood cells (RBCs), making them have an irregular shape like that of a sickle (the farm instrument) instead of the regular disc shape.
“This makes them sticky, rigid and prone to getting trapped in small vessels, which blocks blood from reaching different parts of the body which causes pain crises.
“Let me share my story, my parents knew I had sickle cell disease when I was about five years old, living with SCD is no small feat as I do not just battle it physically but also mentally.
“The fact that they found out early made them take the necessary precautions such as sleeping under a mosquito net, drinking clean water, no strenuous activities and so on,” Igho-Orienru said.
According to him, he knew personally when he was entering secondary school, as I needed to take care of myself in the boarding house.
“The only thing my parents did was to refill my drugs during visiting days.
“I thank God that my parents educated me from a young age of what to do and not to do with people living with SCD,” Igho-Orienru said.
He also urged the government at all levels to provide quality and high-end health care facilities, especially in the rural areas.
“Put an end to stigmatisation. SCD patients are also human beings and the words you speak affect us, so stop with the stigmatisation.
“Stop saying things like; “they are always lazy”; “they are always sick”; “they look like ogbanje,” and so on,” Igho-Orienru said.
NAN reports that Igho-Orienru will be hosting a funding raising and awareness on sickle cell on Sept.25.