Cross River Leads Sickle Cell Prevalence in Nigeria, Advocacy Calls for Improved Care

In an interview, sickle cell disease (SCD) survivor and health advocate Onor-Obassi Egim Tawo shed light on the concerning situation of SCD in Nigeria, highlighting the need for improved care and support for individuals living with the condition. According to a 2019 study by hematologists, Cross River State has the highest SCD prevalence rate in Nigeria, similar to the national average.


Tawo emphasized the gravity of the situation, describing Nigeria as the “world’s capital of SCD” with inadequate healthcare facilities and minimal government intervention. He stressed the importance of public awareness campaigns, often spearheaded by individuals, organizations, and sickle cell communities.


Key points from the interview:


1. Sickle cell disease is a significant health concern in Nigeria, with an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 sickle cell births annually.

2. Adults living with SCD are more likely to experience impairment due to the challenges of independent living and managing stress.

3. Challenges in ending SCD include public indifference, lack of knowledge, and negative perceptions surrounding the condition.

4. Improving emergency services, ensuring adequate healthcare facilities, training healthcare providers, and expanding the National Health Insurance Scheme’s coverage for SCD patients are crucial steps.

5. Effective management strategies include a balanced diet, adequate hydration, routine medication, and adhering to doctor’s instructions.

6. Support from family, community, and healthcare providers, including empathy and understanding, is essential for SCD patients.

7. Awareness can be raised through events, outreach programs, media platforms, and social media campaigns.

8. Policy changes and government intervention are necessary to prioritize SCD as a public health concern and establish a practical strategy for prevention, care, and research.

9. Stigma and negative perceptions towards SCD patients are real challenges that need to be addressed through education and awareness.

10. The cost of managing SCD can be expensive, depending on the individual’s condition, complications, and required treatments.


Tawo’s advocacy efforts highlight the urgent need for improved care, support, and understanding for individuals living with sickle cell disease in Nigeria.