Nigeria has emerged as a country with the highest population of people with sickle cell disorder in Africa, and there is an urgent need for the government to address the disturbing trend because of the large population affected.
Co-chairperson of African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease, Dr. David Ajaere, dropped the hint, even as experts stressed the need to increase health funding and pay more attention to non-communicable diseases like sickle cell disorder.
According to Dr. Ajaere, one of the ways to address the problem is through improved and adequate funding of the health sector, adding that improved budgetary allocation would go a long way to enhance the health status of Nigerians and reduce the burden of not only sickle cell but other diseases.
To this end, he called on the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora to work towards better funding of health and implement the Primary Health Care (PHC) policy that would pave the way for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.
Dr. Ajaere was speaking in Abuja during a media chat on the hosting of the first African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease in Lagos between Thursday and Saturday next week. He said a well-funded health sector in Nigeria will put an end to the brain drain of medical personnel in the country.
He said: “An increased budgetary allocation to the health sector is mandatory for the nation to put an end to the brain drain of qualified medical personnel. A 2017 poll by the Nigerian Polling Organization found that 90 percent of medical doctors in the country intends to seek employment opportunities abroad because of low job satisfaction, poor remuneration, and other factors.”
Dr Ajaere added, “more attention should be paid to non-communicable diseases like sickle cell disorder because Nigeria has been described as a country with the highest population of people with sickle cell in Africa.
“It is understandable why communicable diseases would naturally get urgent attention; it is also important for health management authorities to do more for non-communicable diseases because of the large population affected. One of the ways is for the government to support the organisation of the people who are doing their best to respond to the health needs of the citizens.”
In this regard, he called on the government at all levels, federal, state and local, to partner with DR Sickle Cell Center for Sickle Cell Disease, which is hosting the African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease in Lagos, Nigeria.
Dr Ajaere disclosed that the goal of the conference is to facilitate the exchange of information among public health experts, medical professionals, researchers, policymakers and educate stakeholders on strategies for effective management and control of Sickle Cell Disease in Africa.