As part of efforts to improve the lives of sickle cell anaemia patients in Nigeria, the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria (SCFN) have received the support of the Lagos State Government towards establishment of Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) project.
Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who is also the patron of SCFN, at an appreciation dinner for donors, partners, and stakeholders at the Wheat Bakers Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, said: "Our support for the establishment of a Bone Marrow Transplantation Centre at the premises of the National Sickle Cell Centre Idi Arabs is based on government's commitment to ensure that available resources are spent judiciously for the benefit of the public.
"We are convinced that when completed it will not only serve the health need if of people but also promote the actualization of our medical tourism objective for Lagos State."
The event, which was equally an occasion to intimate stakeholders and partners about the progress on the ongoing BMT project further, underscored the government seriousness on health care delivery.
Ambode reiterated his desire to increase capacity in the healthcare by improving medical facilities and training of personnel.
It must be recalled that this project, which was initiated by SCFN early in 2011 was brought about from an agreement reached between IME Foundation in Rome and Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba/SCFN to transfer the BMT technology to Nigeria within four years.
Following this agreement with IME, 50 Nigerian children with sickle cell anaemia have traveled to Rome for BMT cure, as two doctors and two nurses from LUTH have gone for the BMT procedure training. It is believed that when the BMT facility is eventually installed in the centre, the hope of getting a cure from the scourge of this disorder will be renewed.
Chairman of SCFN, Prof. Olu Akinyanju, harped on the need for Nigerians to put their money where their mouth is by committing more resources to research as the Americans and the West have done to advance the cause of the disorder.
According to the Chairman, who went on memory, recalled that around 1970, Americans began to seek for legislation to encourage research which began to yield fruit soon after.
"In 1972, America passed the National Sickle Cell bill by actually putting their money into research and by the first year about $30million was raised and by the following year another $30million was added. Today America has about 25 sickle cell centres across their country while here in Nigeria, which carries the heaviest burden of sickle cell in the world can only boast of just one centre.
"It explains why the average life expectancy of sickle cell person in America has steadily risen from seven years in 1974 to about 60 years currently.
According to Akinyanju about 50 million persons have sickle cell anaemia out of about 200 million people in Nigeria.
The SCFN has apart from projects on total eradication sickle cell has been coordinating research into very key areas aimed at managing the disease as it key to living healthy lives with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) without complications and crisis.