Expect laws to reduce the economic burden of SCD on families soon — Oyo State Speaker

TO stem rising challenges posed by sickle cell disease (SCD) in Nigeria, Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislators, Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin, said the state legislature with other arms of government is to pass laws to reduce the economic burden of the disease on families and ensure unhindered access to health care services.

Ogundoyin, also the Oyo State Speaker, spoke at the 2024 sickle cell sensitization and empowerment programme to mark the 33rd anniversary of the death of Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin, his father and a business magnet, innovator, and sickle cell warrior.

On the occasion, 500 sickle cell patients received a special pack consisting of essential drugs for the treatment of sickle cell disease for three months and financial support to enhance their economic activities.

Honourable Ogundoyin declared that there was also the need to implement existing laws that protect the rights of sickle cell patients and to improve their living conditions so that they can live productive and impactful lives.

“As a nation, we must rise up to the challenges posed by SCD because 70 percent of the world’s cases of the disease occur in Africa, with Nigeria having the highest number of carriers worldwide.

“We need to come up with policies that will reduce the economic burden put on families by SCD patients who frequently visit hospitals and buy drugs for survival; hence, they must have unhindered access to free healthcare services, drugs, genetic counselling, prenatal testing, and comprehensive medical care.

NGOs, religious institutions, traditional leaders, and other stakeholders must increase awareness to end stigmatisation against individuals and families affected by SCD, as we need to show them love and give them support.”

Deputy Governor of Oyo State and Chairman at the occasion, Engineer Bayo Lawal, urged for increased awareness on SCD so that people will be better informed and assured that people with the conditions with appropriate treatment can live long and meaningful lives.

Vice chancellor of Chrisland University Abeokuta, Professor Chinedum Babalola, said in a keynote address at the celebration that despite the challenges posed by SCD, individuals should not allow the disease to keep me in bed but ensure they work hard to excel in whatever they choose to do.

She called for the establishment of support groups for SCD, their enrollment in health insurance, increased sensitization on SCD in the media, and the collective efforts of everyone to make a difference in improving the quality of life for those living with this condition.

Earlier, Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Oluwaserimi Ajetunmobi, declared that awareness is the first line of defence against SCD, and through education and advocacy, early diagnosis and effective management can help ensure those living with SCD have an improved quality of life magnet.

She declared the importance of education on the realities of SCD in the community, promotion of genetic counselling and testing, as well as dispelling harmful myths, even as she urged all stakeholders join hands in the fight against SCD.

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