Monday, June 28, 2010

On the most recent World Sickle Cell day, Nigeria hosted a ceremony to commemorate the day. At an event, it was announced that Nigeria has the highest rate of sickle cell sufferers in the entire world. The specifics of this statistic are even more alarming. In fact, of the 200,000 babies born with the disease on the African continent, 150,000 of them are Nigerian. Furthermore, 100,000 Nigerian children are lost to the disease annually and 8% of the nation's child mortality deaths stem from sickle cell disease.

During the event, Nigeria's new Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, explained that his ministry was working with various health groups and organizations to tackle the disease and bring respite to sufferers. He noted a country-wide push to screen as many newborns for the disease as possible. Specifically, federal government plans to purchase three High Performance Liquid Chromatography machines for screening purposes and is considering the acquisition of bone marrow transplant technology which has been shown to cure the disease. Chukwu went on to add that the government will purchase proguanil, which is a drug used to treat the disease and promised that the Ministry of Health will provide

routine drugs and commodities such as multi-vitamins, folic acid, anti-biotics, insecticide treated nets and other anti-malarial drugs free to sickle sufferers in approved health facilities across the country.” 
While it is good to know that the Jonathan administration plans to not only screen for, but obtain the technology to cure SCD, it is odd that Chukwu failed to mention Nicosan. Nicosan is a patented drug that has been shown to improve the life condition of SCD sufferers. In fact, those using the drug tend to not experience the painful and debilitating 'crises' incidents that are a primary symptom of SCD. The drug was created from a Nigerian herbal remedy and the Nigerian government, under former President Obasanjo, pumped millions into its creation. Currently, a combination of negligence, greed and corruption, led to a halt in the manufacture and sale of the drug and the license is in limbo due to a lack of government support. That being the case, why would the federal government not want to re-inject life into Nicosan's manufacture - a drug that is indigenous to the country and could transform the lives of millions? In this year, when Nigeria plans to celenrate its 50th year of independence, Nicosan could bring pride to citizens, be an example of Nigerian success and allow the country to become the herbal remedy capital of the world.

Instead, the Nigerian government plans to give money to Astra Zeneca, the manufacturer of Proguanil. Astra Zeneca is a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company and giving it money for its drug might help to improve the lives of Nigerian SCD sufferers, but in the long run, that purchase agreement will do little to build Nigeria's intellectual capacity. Furthermore, Nigeria would have ignored a local and sensible option while making 'others' richer.

This approach only reinforces the widely held belief that the Nigerian government and the officials that constitute it, are more interested in making money from inflated contracts that taking visionary steps to improve Nigeria's short- and long term needs. And, the possibility that Nigeria has no concise record of how many sickle cell patients there are in the country represent another disturbing reality about Nigeria, it's leadership and the challenges the country must face in order to become a country that functions and could become one of the most important in the world.

From the Archives:
- A Sickle Cell Remedy?
- Nigeria's Re-branding Effort
- Using Nigerians to Re-Brand Nigeria
- Re-Branding Nigeria: Success Is The Key
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Significance of Persistent Psychological Paralysis

10 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Anthonia Kehinde said...

Nigeria will not give me hypertension.

Everyday there is a story about what Nigeria is FAILING to do. When will there be good news...The country has the money to do so much yet...

beauty said...

"Sickle-cell anemia is a disorder of the blood. Contrary to superstitious beliefs, it has nothing to do with witchcraft or spirits of the dead. Children inherit sickle-cell anemia from both parents. It is not contagious. There is no way you can catch the disorder from another person. Either you are born with it or you are not."

t said...

I like the fun fact about why Sickle Cell thrives in our zone.
It evolved because those who carry a gene for sickle cell disease (AS and SS) get some resistance against malaria. The areas best for malaria (such as our dense forest, hot and humid and great for breeding mosquitoes) became the areas where sickle cell lived, since it gave some people a fighting chance.

Emm said...

I did not know that SCD was such a big problem! The only thing I knew about it is that the Black Panthers were going door to door about it in the 1960s raising awareness. It is strange indeed that they are not using Nicosan because it sounds like they have conducted clinical trials and have done everythig above board and scientifically.

I like your new banner and Entrecard design! Your blog is looking great.

Jennifer A. said...

This is a very important topic. I've heard a lot about how Nicosan has helped thousands of sickle cell patient? Why do our leaders like making bad decisions like this? Why can't they invest in a home-made product? This could be good for the Nigerian name, yet they would rather use a foreign product? I don't know what else to say to this.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I love your new "logo" on the blog, very nice...

Great post, even better questions. I think the answer is in the fact that the Niprisan issue (it may never be called Nicosan again because of trade name issues) is very complicated right now and I'm sure the government is just waiting for those issues to be resolved before they put its... See More support behind the product (or so I hope). There are a lot of meetings and other communications happening lately that are focused on getting the Niprisan issues resolved and the product back into production. Unfortunately, there are also some legal maneuvers happening to prevent certain things from happening, so that might slow down a few decisions from being made.

I believe we might be a few short weeks away from some resolutions and then when the dust settles, whomever ends up holding the keys to the door of the Niprisan production facility, whether that's Xechem or some other company, will be able to approach the Ministry of Health for its full support. I know that there is someone in the Presidency that is working on the Niprisan issues (I chatted with him online last week, I didn't realize he had moved from the Ministry of Health to the Presidency) and that the Minister of State for Health has had meetings with some of the key people involved to try to help press for a resolution.

It's not on that back burner any longer, there are a lot of people working hard to get things taken care of. We need a lot of prayers and good thoughts sent towards the people involved in Abuja that they'll make it happen quickly (I say quickly after working on this for 11 months with the banks and over two years here in the US...)

Thank you for your continued efforts to keep this issue in the public eye and keep up the great work!

- LaMonte from Facebook

Michelle said...

I definitely learned a lot from your post and every one's comments. I hope and pray they find or begin using some treatment to help these children!

mingus said...

"This approach only reinforces the widely held belief that the Nigerian government and the officials that constitute it, are more interested in making money from inflated contracts that taking visionary steps to improve Nigeria's short- and long term needs. " I rest my case..........

Anonymous said...

this is so sad, why will our govt do such a thing ignore our talent and give money outside. Honestly am so dissappionted that this has happended, why? why? why? Cant our govt just have sense for once?! How long are we going to complain about this sort of thing and yet it happens again. This is so tiring. What else are we supposed to do b4 somebody in power knows the right thing to do.

thanks for bringing this story out but it is still very sad!!!!

Jobs in Nigeria said...

Our ignorance exhibited in the choices we make is making us suffer little children.

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