Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta inaugurated newborn screening equipment for the treatment of sickle cell in the state.
The equipment was donated to the Sickle Cell Referral Centre, Asaba Specialist Hospital, Asaba, by 05 Initiative of the Wife of the Governor, Edith Okowa.
The governor, while inaugurating the equipment, said Delta had become the first state in Nigeria to have a “newborn and adult screening machine” in one system under High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).
He thanked his wife for the vision to assist people with sickle cell disorder.
He also thanked 05 Initiative for the gesture, saying that the initiative was sustained by donations from individuals and agencies.
He called for appropriate legislation for compulsory sickle cell test for every newborn across the country, adding that the government would do everything to support the screening of children across the state.
He said “let me congratulate 05 Initiative for impacting the lives of our people in several ways. I have witnessed them do a whole lot of things for children, women, and the less privileged.
“They have gone further to reach out to our brothers and sisters in the prisons and I believe that beyond what they give, the fact that they carry out evangelism to the prisons will help to make those people better citizens when they come out.
“When the issue of establishing sickle cell clinics across the state came up, I was wondering how they were going to achieve the feat.
“I am glad that they have succeeded in establishing these clinics in 13 hospitals across the state with donations made by our brothers and sisters across the state without the state government contributing a dime into the project.
“We must continue to recognise all those that donated.
“A lot of people now have hope that they can be attended to because if you see the children that suffer from this disorder, they are usually in severe pains and their parents do not have the money to treat them.”
Earlier, the governor’s wife had said that the inauguration of the newborn screening machine was a dream come true.
She thanked God for the testimonies from patients at the various sickle cell centres across the state and commended the health professionals at the centres for being compassionate caregivers.
She commended the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the member representing Ika Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Mr Victor Nwokolo, for donating the money used for the purchase of the equipment.
She said that “the newborn screening machine will help to determine the genotype of babies at birth and this is indeed a dream come true for the 05 Initiative family.
“Beyond visiting the sick which is part of the mission of the 05 Initiative, we are convinced that people living with sickle cell disorder can live a normal life once they access the healthcare provided by professionals and compassionate caregivers.
“I am confident that the use of these facilities will reduce the stress of mothers and to a large extent bring joy to families who are facing this challenge.
“It is important that we take this advocacy seriously so that people will know their genotype before they marry,” she said.
On his part, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye, said that the sickle cell disorder was a public health problem among blacks.
According to him, one in every four Nigerians has sickle cell trait.
The inauguration witnessed health talks from Dr Chijioke Onyia of PineCrest Health Care Limited and the Medical Director of Asaba Specialist Hospital, Dr Peace Ighosewe.