Nigeria has the largest number of people living with sickle cell disorder in the entire world.
This fact will come as a shock to many of us because, while we know that we do have cases of sickle cell disorder in the country, we are largely unaware of the extent to which it affects us.
As the country with the largest prevalence of sickle cell disorder, a staggering number of babies that are born with the condition and the ones that die before the age of 5 and the sheer millions who are healthy carriers of the sickle cell gene, it cannot just be about a group of people with sickle-shaped red blood cells; it HAS to be about ALL of us now.
We should be at the forefront of the management of this disorder; we should be at the top of research and development, of treatment, of policy-making regarding this and above all, Nigeria should be at the forefront of PROMOTING EMPATHY towards those living with the condition.
But for all these to happen, we have got to first create NATIONAL AWARENESS.
For this year’s World Sickle Cell Day (2020), Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria is taking a giant step to address the challenge by creating a campaign for all people to ACCEPT IT.
LOVE A NIGERIAN campaign is taking away the labels of people living with sickle cell disorder and engaging them as who they really are – as NIGERIANS.
It is time we addressed people living with sickle cell in Nigeria by who they really are: as our brothers, our sisters, our friends and our neighbours; as Igbos, as Hausas, as Urhobos as Yorubas etc.; as teachers, as lawyers, as doctors, as business men and women, as colleagues, as students etc… in order to create the reorientation and empathy that we need to make a change.