By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives have made moves to put an end to the death of 100,000 babies from Sickle Cell in Nigeria every year.
The statistics has made Nigeria number one sickle cell endemic country in Africa.
The Bill which has passed through first and second readings on the floor of the House was Wednesday subjected to Public Hearing along with the Bill for an Act to establish Federal Medical Centre Hong, Adamawa State.
Mover of the motion on the esterblishment of agency on sickle cell, Rep. Bamidele Salam, speaking on the bill, noted that Nigeria has the largest population of people with Sickle cell disease in the world, with over 150,000 babies born with it every year.
He further said that despite the huge recorded losses, Nigeria had no legal framework for the prevention, control and treatment of this endemic.
“At least 100,000 babies die from the disorder in Nigeria every year according to World Health Organisation, making it the number one sickle cell endemic country in Africa and as the country with the highest burden of sickle cell disorder in the world. Over 40 million Nigerians are carriers of the sickle cell gene,” he said.
He further stated that the bill if passed will improve the lives of people suffering from Sickle cell disease, recognize the disease as a serious and debilitating illness, and allocate new resources to monitoring, researching and treating it.
“This Bill also seeks to formulate and implement policies, guidelines and strategies on sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders.
“The bill also seeks : To facilitate the engagement of all tiers of government and all sectors on issues of sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders prevention, care and support;
“To advocate for the mainstreaming of sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders interventions into all sectors of the country;
“Promote, improve and support research and learning in sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders, create awareness on sickle cell disease and other heritable blood disorders; protect patients’ rights including the right to humane treatment and freedom from abuse; and promote and coordinate partnerships and collaborations with national and international organizations;
In a presentation, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire said the Department of Public Health within the Federal Ministry of Health which currently deals with non-communicable diseases be strengthened to continue with the work which falls within its mandate.
The Minister who was represented by Director Hospital Services of in the Ministry, Adedimpe Adebiyi saidthe need to improve access to quality healthcare services can not be overemphasised and commended the efforts of lawmakers towards realisation of the goal.
“I urge this Honourable Committee to recommend that this MultiMillion Naira health facility be named a Federal Medical Centre to reflect its new status in order to meet the healthcare needs of an immediate population of 226,100 covering 87.38KM2 and other surrounding Local Government Areas and outside Adamawa State with a population of over 2 million”, he appealed.
On the Federal Medical Centre Hong, the Minister said: “The policy for establishing Federal Medical Centre is for it to be established in States where there are no Federal Teaching Hospitals. Currently, the above policy is accomplished and it is inadvisable for the Federal Government to engage in proliferation of tertiary health institutions”.
But sponsor of the Bill for the establishment of the Federal Medical Centre, Hong, Yusuf Yakub (APC, Adamawa, said indigenes of the area had in 2019 mobilised health-care infrastructure and equipment from government and the private sector to upgrade an existing health facility which can accommodate the proposed Federal Medical Centre.
Speaking also at the hearing, the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila who was represented by the House Chief whip, Rep. Muhammad Mongonu called for cooperation between stockholder, adding that the success of the bills depend on them.
“The success of this hearing will depend entirely on the quality of the contributions that you each make through the memoranda you submit to the Committee and the conversations that will hold here over the next two days. So, I ask you to make the best of this opportunity in the best interest of our country” he said.