Why did they not carry out a blood test before getting into a serious relationship? Why did they carry on with the relationship knowing their blood is not compatible? Why are they complaining when they chose to punish their children? stop! Stop with the assumptions. There is a lot of stereotype and stigma that comes with being diagnosed with sickle cell.’
Sickle cell anaemia (sickle cell disease) is a disorder of the blood that causes red blood cells to become misshapen. This is due to an inherited abnormal hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying protein in the red blood cells) which occurs when both partners are carriers of the disease, but the gene is not active because it is recessive for instance, AS.
The most well-known form of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and in most cases, more severe than others is homozygous hemoglobin. Other common variations include sickle haemoglobin and sickle beta thalassemia (Hb SB thal). The abnormal haemoglobin upon deoxygenation transforms the red blood cell to a dense and rigid ‘sickle’ cell. The blood cells of someone with sickle cell are fragile thus making them prone to rupture. The reason behind the ‘anaemia’ is a result of the decreasing oxygen (hémolyses), this gives the disease the name Sickle Cell Anaemia. Patients with sickle cell suffer from severe pain because the sickled cell can block vessels resulting to the damage of tissues and organs. Impaired circulation of oxygen leads to a lack of oxygen in the tissues which in turn leads to low oxygen levels, increased acidity or low volume of the blood. These conditions occur because of injury to the body’s tissues, dehydration, or anaesthesia. SCD is characterised by chronic haemolytic anaemia, increased susceptibility to infections, organ damage, and intermittent episodes of vascular occlusion that result in acute and chronic pain. All of these complications compromise the quality of life for the person with SCD, as well as for the family.
Helping each patient attain optimal quality of life is the goal of palliative care, and this occurs through open and effective communication. Conversely, all too often, poor communication occurs between patients and health care professionals, which results in suspicion and mistrust. Patients perceive themselves labelled as drug seekers; making them feel that the medical community is merely tolerant of them. These patients believe they are confronted by an unsympathetic system and hence respond to health care professionals in a hostile fashion.
For the reasons above, MultiChoice has been involved in aiding and raising awareness of SCD and the risk of producing an offspring with SCD. Over the years MultiChoice Nigeria has partnered with the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria (SFCN) to use channels on DStv and GOtv to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for the Foundation thereby promoting good health and better well-being. The health care system in Nigeria is usually not able to provide all that is needed by patients, nor do they have the avenue to raise awareness concerning most of the disorders that we have a tendency to possess in our society. However, with the support from MultiChoice, SCFN (Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria) has been able to reach out to more people based on the subscribers’ people who have access to DStv and GOtv. Documentaries on SCD have been aired giving viewers an understanding of the disease. Bringing a child into this world to go through this type of physical, mental and emotional pain; medication; stigmatisation or to be reprimanded for something out of their control can be prevented and avoided if and when you educate yourself on genotypes.
By seeking to encourage such actions MultiChoice has provided support to SCFN by sponsoring their workshops, community outreaches and seminars. A major problem ‘sufferers’ in Nigeria face is an inadequate health care system that can attend to and provide their needs. Carriers also face this problem because when one goes to get a blood test, the results produced may be wrong caused by lack of satisfactory equipment and enough specialists. For these reasons MultiChoice sponsored the training of psychologists in 2009 and sponsored the 18th edition of the Sickle Cell Genetic Counselling Course that attracted participants from different parts of Africa. A lot of individuals tend to overlook Sickle Cell awareness, but they do not understand the danger that comes with not being aware of the complications caused by this disease.
MultiChoice’s commitment to the development and improvement of the quality of life for those battling SCD-including possible carriers is an ethical framework in which this organisation has been able to find a balance between the economy and the ecosystem. Individuals as well as organisations have a duty to act in the best interests of their environment and society as a whole. MultiChoice’s assistance to SCFN is not solely concentrated on the disease alone but also ensuring that the foundation is able to get to their patients when an emergency occurs by providing 2 cars and 1 bus in turn aiding operations.
It is highly beneficial for the carriers’ well being and that of the offspring to be educated about this disease by paying attention to the documentaries aired on DStv or GOtv concerning SCD. Go for sickle cell genetic counselling, take this disorder seriously because neglecting this aspect of your life leads to adverse effects in the long run.The bad tends to outweighthe good if we are being realistic.
Vaughan is a Marketing Intern at MultiChoice Nigeria