World sickle cell day is celebrated every year on the 19th of June. The event was marked in the Assembly hall of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with a lecture titled; Sickle, Bent But Not Broken.
The event started around 10;53am, with the opening prayers, after which the introduction of the guests was done. The chairman of the occasion was Prof Aminu Surajo. The Honorable Member Kaduna State House of Assembly representing Zaria Constituency, Hon. Suleiman Ibrahim Dabo (Wakilin Zazzau), The Representative of the Emir of Zazzau, The first female Haematologist in Arewa; Prof. Aisha Indo Mamman, President of Sickle cell awareness A.B.U chapter; Rabi DanBala and Head of the Department of Haematology and Blood Transfusion A.B.U Zaria; Dr I.N Ibrahim were all present. Other guests include; Dr Abubakar Ismail Alh. Salisu Ahmed and Dr Aminu Waziri.
The President in his opening remarks welcomed the special guest of honour and all other guests present before he introduced Dr I.N Ibrahim; the first speaker of the day.
According to Dr I.N Ibrahim, The World Sickle cell day which comes up once annually, is set aside to sensitize people on sickle cell anemia. He also Thank God for such a wonderful topic this time around.
In her remarks, Prof Aisha Indo Mamman after welcoming everyone, appreciated the sickle cell patients as they are the reason why the world knows who she is. She then proceeded to deliver a short lecture on the sickle cell itself, which is a result of the Inheritance of the Haemoglobin S gene from both parents. The condition, which affects both males and females causes red blood cells in the body to undergo changes.
According to Prof A. I Mamman; “1-3% of Nigerians are affected and 150,000 babies with Sickle cell Anemia are born annually, according to a research conducted in 2008.” The victims, on average usually suffer 2 to 3 major crisis per year and might need 2 or 4 units of blood transfused to them.
Prof Mamman further mentioned that the methods for diagnosing sickle cell include; Blood test, Electrophoresis and Parental Diagnosis. She also described crisis experienced by the patients, which can be in form of any ill health or bone pain which is the most common. Patients can regularly maintain their health through Pneumovax HiB+ Vaccination and regular clinic visits. It is also important they take Folic acid and Proguanil regularly and ensure there is blood screening before any transfusion.
The Honorable Member, Kaduna State House of Assembly representing Zaria Constituency who also doubles as the Wakilin Birnin Zazzau, Hon. Suleiman Ibrahim Dabo also chipped in a few words of wisdom. He also commended the organizers of the event and delivered goodwill messages.
Narrating her ordeal, one of the warriors named Zinatu Abdulkadir Sanusi, a nursing student in A.B.U said people refer to sickle cell patients as ‘living dead.’ “They stigmatize us as though it’s a communicable disease,” she said.
Zinatu, who mentions that she had several crises, sometimes experiencing low PVC and swollen stomachs, spends months in a hospital that people around her will give up on her. ” With all the complications I still stand even when at times I feel like giving up. Stop stigmatizing the SCA patients and stop calling the living Dead. It’s love and care we need,” She concluded.
Ila Bappa Ibrahim who represented Safiya Sickle Cell Foundation in his closing remarks thanked everyone for coming, and the event was declared closed.