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Sickle Cell Disease in Rural Nigeria

Health Centre at FFI was very interested to learn from John that he had attended a workshop looking at the issue of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in resource-poor environments.

This set me thinking on two levels. First as a former paediatric nurse (I haven't worked in a hospital environment for a decade but I'm not sure if you ever stop being a nurse!) . . . and, secondly, as a mother. 

As a nurse, you quickly realise that Sickle Cell is a very nasty genetic blood condition which can bring sufferers excruciating pain. Here in the UK, SCD care is provided by a team of healthcare specialists ranging from paediatricians, to nurses and general practitioners - all at well-resourced specialist clincs. However, this is not an option in rural Africa, where even paracetamol is unavailable to the poorest.

As a mother I am filled with great empathy for fellow parents in Africa. I feel angry that they have to watch their children suffer without even basic medical help. It seems so obvious that the developing world deserves better healthcare provision.

John informs me that Nigeria has the world's highest mortality rate for Sickle Cell Disease and that most children with this disease do not reach their tenth birthdays.

Although the situation remains unchanged for the wider country, help is now becoming available to those in Kafanchan, albeit a drop in the ocean amid such tremendous need.

A fantastic first step has been taken by Fantsuam Foundation with the establishment of a SCD support group. This group has grown from 20 to 70+ in a few months and the team expects this increase to continue.
Imagine how you would feel if you were watching your child suffer in great pain, had perhaps even lost children already to this awful disease, and had no doctor, nurse or hospital to go to? Indeed, no analgesic and  no understanding of the disease afflicting your child?
Now for the first time you finally have somewhere to go where you can share your worries and start to find answers and help supporting your child with the daily realities of this condition.

This is only the beginning, of course. There is much work to be done to ensure Fantsuam has the necessary resources to meet the local need and expectations.

The children around Fantsuam are fortunate to have John and his team who, on a shoe-string, are trying to help alleviate the suffering around them. I have every confidence that despite the enormity of this challenge they will make a real difference to the families around Fantsuam Foundation.