We’ve developed drugs for sickle cell, hypertension – FG

THE Minister of Science and Technology, Olorunnimbe Mamora, says the ministry has developed diagnostic processes, treatment and drugs for common diseases like sickle cell and hypertension through its agencies.

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder in which the haemoglobin is damaged and can’t carry oxygen to the tissues while Hypertension is when the pressure in the blood vessels is too high (140/90 mmHg or higher).

Mamora disclosed this on Tuesday, May 17, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while featuring in the State House briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team.

The minister said his ministry had also made significant achievements in food processing and equipment fabrication to boost food production.

“Nigeria has a very large population of sickle cell disease patients and carriers; to that effect, I can tell that we have developed products from plants that combat or are anti-sickening in nature and therefore reduce the number of attacks that usually result from sickle cell anaemia.”

According to him, the anti-hypertensive drugs and Lovastatin, which reduce cholesterol, were also developed.

“I can say that through our molecular diagnostic laboratories, we have been able to develop a mode of identifying or making a diagnosis because the first step in the management of a patient is to make the right diagnosis; if you don’t make the right diagnosis, you cannot treat what you don’t know.’’

The sickle cell crisis, according to American Family Physician Journal,  is pain that can begin suddenly and last several hours to several days.

Nigeria has been identified as the global epicenter for individuals living with sickle cell disease, according to the Pan African Medical Journal.

“About 50 million people are living with SCD globally and Nigeria is the epicentre zone with about 4-6 million people living with the disease (1 in every 4 Nigerians has a sickle cell trait). Annually, about 300,000 newly diagnosed SCD children are born worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africa contributes about 75% of the number. Nigeria accounts for 100,000-150,000 newborns living with SCD annually (33% of the global burden of SCD).”

The journal added that the prevalence of SCD within the states in Nigeria ranges from 1-3 per cent, noting that Hb-SS is the predominant ´haemoglobin variant found in Nigeria while Hb-SC occurs sporadically, especially in the south-western Nigeria.

“SCD poses significant challenges to the global population health. It contributes significantly to the morbidity and mortality of pediatric and adult population. About 50%-90% of children born with SCD in low- and low-middle-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa die before their fifth birthday.

“It accounts for 20% of neonatal mortality and 5% of mortality of under-5 children in the African continent. It is contributory to several obstetric complications and high maternal mortality rates of women of child-bearing age living with SCD in the region.

“The economic burden of SCD could be quite enormous to the family of sufferers and the nation [16-18]. Although SCD is a genetic disease, socio-demographic characteristics of the host person plays significant role in predicting the direction of the disease trajectory.”

Also, a study published on thelancet.com, reveals that Nigeria holds the highest birth prevalence of sickle cell disease worldwide, with an estimated 150,000 babies born annually with sickle cell anaemia, which is the most prevalent form of the disease.

This figure means that Nigeria takes almost half of the share of more than 300,000 babies with severe haemoglobin disorders that are born globally each year.

According to data from The World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300,000 babies with severe haemoglobin disorders are born globally each year, but 75 per cent is said to be found in Sub-Saharan Africa.

WHO stated that approximately five per cent of the world’s population carries trait genes for haemoglobin disorders, mainly sickle-cell disease and thalassaemia.

The ICIR, in 2019, reported that despite the high burden of the disease in the country, there is no legislation, no national coverage of the genotype screening, and no active policy to aid in controlling and managing the disease.

The report narrated how people living with the disease were being stigmatized in the society.

The conditions of the people living with sickle cells anemia worsened during the Covid-19 lockdown as most Nigerians couldn’t access health centers.

Similarly, Hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, affects millions of Nigerians. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart.



    Studies have indicated that hypertension raises the likelihood of knee arthritis, a condition that leaves the patients with a throbbing pain on the knees’ joints.

    Hypertension is a disease that affects about 1.13 billion people worldwide, according to WHO statistics in 2018. 

    WHO stressed that Africa has the highest percentage of cases of hypertension.

    According to the data, approximately 23.9 percent of Nigeria’s population, aged 18 years and above, are affected by hypertension. This translates to over 38 million individuals in the country, representing a ratio of nearly one in every four Nigerians.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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