By Zainab Yetunde Adam
Sharifa Hussaini, a mother of four, listened with rapt attention as medical experts share thoughts on how to prevent and manage sickle cell anaemia during a recent event organised by Borno Sickle Cell Care Foundation (BSCCF). The outreach event was organised to mark this year’s world sickle cell day.
BSCCF is a Maiduguri-based nongovernmental that advances the cause of anaemic patients and creates awareness on how to prevent the disease. The event held in Maiduguri, Borno state capital on Sunday June 19.
Mrs Hussaini wasn’t anaemic per se, but she is very unlucky to be a mother to four kids who are.
Her presence at the event was not to seek a cure to the lifelong ailment that threatens the well-being of her beautiful children and equally torments the peace of her family, rather she was there to gain more knowledge on how to keep them alive and well.
Dr Fatima Adam-Abdulfathi, a consultant Haematologist from the University of Maiduguri, who delivered key messaging on the sickle cell during a one-day outreach organised by BSCCF, said preconception, neonatal and universal testing remain key in averting Sickle cell disease.
She clarified that: “Genotype doesn’t change except if a lab error occurred in detecting the result or when the test is carried out on a newborn baby before six months.”
The renowned haematologist had however said that the recent drop in several blood donors may also threaten the lives of survivors of the disease which is generally known as the most “blood demanding disease” among other ailments of its nature.
“People must know that Blood donated at the donation centre is not for sale,” she said.
“Just last week we only had 30 donors on World Blood donors’ day. How can we get blood to save lives if we don’t have frequent donors?”.
Dr Abdulfathi also advised the general public to stop stigmatising sickle cell survivors, saying no human is immune from one form of ailment or the other.
Though the Haematologist’s words may have consoled a mother like Mrs Hussaini, it still did not take away the burden of worries for being aware that she may probably live longer than her kids if she does not religiously pay attention to their health needs with clinical precision.
The mother of four anaemic children has however learnt some lessons from the past mistakes she had made concerning the choice of her spouse.
“Sickle cell anaemia affects both the patient and the family at all times,” she told The Humanitarian Times.
“People need to keep love aside and identify each other’s genotype first. We should avoid putting our children in a lifetime of pain and difficulty because of our incompatible status as a couple.”
The pain associated with sick cell anaemia is best told by the survivors.
Fatima Muhammed, a sickle cell survivor shared her experiences thus: “Whenever I’m in crises, the pain cannot be likened with anything.”
“If I don’t have money for treatment when I am in crisis, I usually stay indoors at home until the pain subsides,” she said.
President of BSCCF, Bashir Abdullahi Isa, who is also a survivor, informed The Humanitarian Times that accessing medical care is challenging for Survivors in some Government-owned facilities in the state.
He thereby called on the government to consider the “construction of a specified Sickle cell centre which can go a long way to ease management of the life-threatening and preventable disease in the state
“Sickle cell crises can occur at any time but, if it happens at the weekend, the treatment hardly comes in good time,” Bashir said.
Borno Sickle Cell Care Foundation is a Non-profit, Non-governmental, Non-political, Non-Ethical organization which was created by like-minds to reduce cases of Sickle Cell anaemia and provide support to its survivors in the state.