In order to assist medical experts detect the disease early enough in unborn babies and infants, the federal government has established a N57 million Sickle Cell centre in Gombe State that would cater for all the six states in the Northeast geopolitical zone of the country.
The complex also houses the Health Records Office of the hospital.
Speaking at the inauguration of the centre, the Minister for Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu said the Gombe centre which is one of six in the country would be equipped with the best of facilities to enable it give advanced care to sickle cell patients.
Chukwu also stated that government had engaged faith based organizations and the media to help counsel would-be couples on the dangers of the disease and how it can be avoided by the right genotype combination.
“This will be achieved through the Health Promotion Programme unit of the Federal Ministry for Health, known as Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria,” he said.
The chief medical director of the hospital, Abubakar Saidu, who conducted the minister round the complex, thanked the Nigerian government for the speedy construction of the project.
Saidu assured that the facilities at the centre which are already in use would facilitate healthcare delivery for the people of the state and the entire North east region.
Nigeria alone accounts for three quarters of live births into the disorder in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is equivalent to 150,000 out of every 200,000 births in the region.
About 3.4 million Nigerians are currently suffering from sickle cell anaemia while an estimated 40 million Nigerians are said to carry the gene of reproducing sickle cell patients.
The sickle cell disorder has been associated with poverty, maternal mortality, new born and child mortality and HIV and AIDS, particularly in those with history of frequent unscreened blood transfusion.
Other problems faced by sufferers are stigmatisation, bias in job selection and absenteeism from schools or workplaces because of frequent admissions to the hospital, failure of children to grow well, cost of medication, depression and psychological challenges, among others.