Dr Valetine Omoifo, the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, Edo, has advised patients with sickle cell to introduce healthy practices into their daily lives.
Omoifo gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Wednesday as the country marks the World Sickle Cell Day on June 19.
He said that the World Sickle Cell Day is celebrated to increase public awareness and spread information about the genetic disease.
“Sickle cell disorder is a group of illnesses which affect the red blood cells.
“Sickle cell is a genetic condition, which means it is passed on from your parents and you are born with it; you cannot catch it from other people.
“Sickle cell disorders causes normally round and flexible blood cells to become stiff and sickle-shaped, stopping the blood cells, and the oxygen they carry from moving freely around the body and causing pain.
“This can cause episodes of severe pain. These painful episodes are referred to as sickle cell crisis.
“Over time, people with sickle cell can experience damage to organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs, heart, and spleen.
“Death can also result from complications of the disorder.
“Treatment of sickle cell mostly focuses on preventing and treating complications,” he said.
Omoifo said that the aim of the awareness was to educate people with sickle gene not to marry spouses with the sickle gene.
“Sickle cell trait is inherited and when only one of the parents has the sickle gene, it will never develop into sickle cell disorder.
“The trait is not an illness, but if you are planning to have children, then certain factors have to be considered,’’ he said.
Omoifo explained that if a partner did not have sickle cell trait, none of the children would have sickle cell disorder, or they could have a 50 per cent chance of having the trait.
NAN reports that the day is celebrated to create awareness on how to improve treatment outcomes of sickle cell disease through the early diagnosis.
The day was marked through interaction with doctors, governments, support groups, and NGOs to find strategies to eliminate sickle cell disorder. (NAN)