Nigerian diaspora doctors join medical experts in Nigeria to raise awareness of Sickle Cell anaemia
A project funded by the EC-UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) to improve survival and quality of life for children with Sickle Cell anemia recently held a workshop in the Nigerian capital Abuja to raise awareness of the disease in Nigeria and train medical workers in diagnosis and counselling.
Sickle-cell anaemia is a life-long blood disorder, usually presenting in childhood, that shortens life expectancy and can cause various acute and chronic complications, some potentially lethal. Nigeria is reported to have the largest number of new births - up to 150,000 per year – but has no coordinated programmme for newborn screening and diagnosis and therefore hospitals are not able to empower parents to provide relevant intervention, such as vaccination, mosquito nets to reduce malaria and appropriate clothing to reduce painful crises. With the help of UK-based practitioners, largely Nigerian migrants, this project aims to institute early infant diagnosis in Nigeria and develop local capacities to establish sustainable, standardized care from diagnosis, prevention and treatment to rehabilitation.
At the workshop on 1-2 December 2009 instructors, including Nigeria-based doctors and medical practitioners from the UK and the United States, largely Nigerian migrants, demonstrated appropriate counselling methods, informed participants about different available diagnosis methods, including screening of newborns, and taught skills to counsel patients and relatives on how to live with sickle cell anaemia.
The 62 workshop participants, including doctors and nurses from public and private hospitals in and around Abuja, also learnt how to increase understanding of how the disease can be managed and the importance of adherence to a physician's recommendations before and during a SCD crisis. They also received information on the JMDI-funded project and how to participate. Other participants included traditional birth attendants, pharmacists, maternity home operators, field workers, missionaries working in villages and a representative of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Public Health.
For more information on the JMDI project see: http://www.migration4development.org/content/sickle-cell-cohort-study-sustainable-pilot-scheme