The World Health Organisation recommended that “Where disorders are common, special dedicated Centres are required, to ensure adequate services for treatment and prevention”. (In Guidelines for the control of haemoglobin disorders, World Health Organisation, 1994, WHO/HDP/HB/GL/94). No country in the world qualifies for this more than Nigeria where one in every four persons is a healthy carrier of the sickle cell gene (Hb AS). Although Nigeria shares this characteristic with neighbouring countries, its large population of over 160 million sets it apart with regard to the number of healthy carriers and, consequently, the number of children born annually with SCD.
In numerical terms, over 40 million Nigerians are healthy carriers of the sickle cell gene, while over 150,000 babies are born each year with sickle cell anaemia (Hb SS). This is by far the largest burden of the disorder anywhere in the world and most of these children would die in childhood from ignorance and lack of access to proper diagnosis and care.
Sickle cell centres are ideal institutions for addressing the problems of SCD as shown by their establishment in the USA over 30 years ago. Since then, the average life expectancy of persons with sickle cell anaemia in America rose from 14 years in 1974 to 53 years in 2007.
The National Sickle Cell Centre (NSCC) is strategically located opposite the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, in order to facilitate desirable and effective collaboration with a tertiary care hospital and university research centre.
The NSCC will encourage the development of collaborating Sickle Cell Centres in each State of the Federation. The State Centres would in turn support and supervise the operation of Sickle Cell Clubs within their State, thus making for a harmonious coordination of all credible sickle cell organisations in the country.
Objectives Of The Centre
- To create and maintain a reference and related data base on sickle cell disorders in Nigeria.
- To deliver counselling services to affected individuals, their parents and other carriers of the sickle cell trait.
- To serve as a reference laboratory centre for the accurate diagnosis of sickle cell disorder.
- To offer prenatal diagnosis of sickle cell disorder to couples or women at risk of bearing affected offspring.
- To maintain a reference library on sickle cell and related disorder.
- To promote, fund and carry out worthwhile research into various aspects of sickle cell disorder.
- To constantly monitor and periodically,evaluate services provided in pursuance of the aims and objectives of the centre.
- To offer appropriate educational and training courses to various cadres of health care personnel.
- To liaise with other national and international bodies as may be necessary in pursuance of the aims and objectives of the centre.
- To advise the 3 levels of the national health care system on the introduction and co-ordination of services appropriate to the management and control of sickle cell disorder