Intending couples to undergo sickle cell counseling, screening in Sokoto -Commissioner

Sokoto State Gov Tambuwal

The Sokoto State Government says it will enact a law that will make it mandatory for all intending couples to undergo sickle cell counselling, screening and testing in the state.

The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Balarabe Kakale, made this known on Sunday in Sokoto at a ceremony marking the 2017 World Sickle Awareness Day.

It was organised by the state Ministry of Health, in collaboration with an NGO, The Productive Youth Development Initiative.

The World Sickle Cell Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 to increase the awareness about the sickle cell disease and its cure among the common public.

It was first celebrated on June 19, 2009.

Kakale said that the ministry would organise a seminar to be attended by medical experts, traditional and religious leaders, as well as other stakeholders on the issue.

The commissioner said that the seminar would agree on the positions of the law, Islam and culture.

Kakale said: “The ministry will thereafter sponsor a private bill to the state House of Assembly in this direction.

”The bill, after its debate and passage by the state House of Assembly and sign into law by the state governor, will make it compulsory for intending couples to undergo the sickle cell test.

”This is to further reduce the prevalence of the disease in the state and the country as a whole.”

Kakale said that the proposed law would also make it compulsory for intending couples to undergo HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B tests.

He said that under the law, they would also be compelled to enrol for the state community contributory health scheme and use the long-lasting insecticide treated nets.

”All these measures are targeted at further reducing the menace of the diseases in the state,” he said.

Kakale stressed the need for people in the state to enrol under the contributory health scheme to reduce the cost of treating sickle cell and all its complications.

He said that the scheme would take care of diseases like hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, liver, kidney and heart-related diseases, as well as bone fractures caused by road traffic crashes.

Also, the Wife of Gov. Aminu Tambuwal, Hajiya Mariya Tambuwal, represented by Dr. Zainab Tori, pledged her support to the people living with sickle cell and other diseases.

In his remarks, Alhaji Sani Umar, the District Head of Gagi in Sokoto South Local Government Area, urged the traditional and religious leaders to support the state government in reducing the diseases.

Umar said that more attention should be given to people in the rural areas in meeting their health needs, saying,” majority of our people who live in the rural areas are suffering from these diseases.”

The chairman of the organisation, Dr. Awwal Ahmed, said that the ceremony was to raise awareness on the disorder and the need for pre-marital counseling, screening and testing for genotypes.
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