Statistics have shown that Nigeria bears the highest burden of sickle cell anemia in the world, with one out of every four Nigerians carrying the sickle gene and three out every 100 new born children are affected by the disease in the country.
The Enogie (Duke) of Evbobanosa, HRH (Prof.) Gregory Akenzua, and other medical experts disclosed this weekend in Benin, at the 1st Sickle Cell Awareness Golf Tournament.
The tournament was organised by Presco Oil Plc and the University of Benin teaching Hospital (UBTH).
It was to create awareness and raise funds to support the State chapter of the Sickle Cell Club.
Prof. Akenzua, a patron of the club and royal father at the event, called for the reawakening of awareness about sickle cell disease.
He also urged that funds be be raised to help up-grade facilities for the comprehensive care of cickle cell patients at both the Sickle Cell Centre in Benin and at the UBTH.
Other medical experts and other stakeholders who spoke at the event, decried the neglect of people living with sickle cell anaemia in Nigeria by governments at all levels.
The Chief Medical Director of UBTH, Prof. Mike Ibadin, expressed disappointment about the neglect of sickle cell patients and appealed to governments at all levels to play their roles to enable other stakeholders contribute their quota.
Ibadin who said Nigeria at present has the highest burden of the disease in the world, however disclosed that the ailment could now be successfully managed in the country, with necessary support from governments.
Also commenting, the Captain of UBTH Golf Club, Prof. Anthony Monye-Emina, lamented that the government had failed in supporting sickle cell patients in Nigeria.
“On government support for sickle cell, it is common knowledge that this has been deteriorating over the years. We in UBTH think that this is unacceptable. The people living with the condition, as well as, their relations pay tax as citizens.
“Government has the constitutional obligation to support them. We use this opportunity to call on governments at all levels to Iive up to their obligations to these members of the society by providing facilities for easy management of the sickle cell condition.
“Government has the duty to bring public consciousness to bear on the need to support the people living with this condition to accept them for what they are rather than stigmatizing them,” he said.
They therefore called on the federal, states and local governments to support the sickle cell patients in order to reduce their sufferings and enable them leave a healthy life.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of Presco Plc, Felix Nwabuko, noted that the event is a collaborative effort between the UBTH Golf Club and Sickle Cell Centre, Benin branch to create awareness on the problem of patients at sickle cell centre, and to draw attention to their needs and the challenges they encounter, and what could be done to ameliorate them, which marks a milestone in the history of the golf club.
President, Sickle Cell Club, Benin city, Gregrey Aigbonoga, commended all who graced the event, saying it was a step in the right direction to give sickle cell patients in the state a new lease of life .