Unseen struggles of sickle cell patients in Nigeria & its impact

Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited blood disorder that affects millions in Nigeria, with about 4-6 million people suffering from the condition and approximately one in four Nigerians carrying the sickle cell trait.The social impact is equally devastating.

Participation in extracurricular activities, sports, and other forms of play is often out of the question, leading to social isolation. Plans with friends are frequently canceled due to unexpected pain episodes, and the lack of understanding from peers exacerbates feelings of loneliness.

Emotional well-being is intricately tied to physical health; excessive joy or sorrow can trigger a crisis, leading to a constant state of anxiety about when the next painful episode will strike.

Moreover, sickle cell patients endure significant emotional and psychological burdens. The stigma associated with the disease can lead to depression, with patients often facing unkind remarks and unfair labels.

Food allergies further complicate daily life, and the small size of their veins means that each hospital visit involves multiple, painful needle pricks. The fear of death looms large, with the unpredictability of their condition—feeling healthy one moment and requiring intensive care the next—adding to their distress.

The pain of living with sickle cell disease is immense and multifaceted, affecting every aspect of life. From physical

pain and fatigue to social isolation and emotional turmoil, the challenges faced by sickle cell patients are profound and often invisible to those around them. Understanding and empathy from society are crucial in alleviating some of the burdens they bear, and it is imperative that more attention is given to improving their quality of life.

Mariya Bagudu is a multifaceted creative artist dedicated to promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fostering community development. As a writer, storyteller, and filmmaker, she leverages her talents to advocate for social change and uplift marginalised communities.


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