Sickle cell: Sokoto to promulgate law compelling test, screening, counselling for potential spouses

By  Ado Hassan, Sokoto
Sokoto state government has made known its intention to promulgate a law ‎for potential couples to  compulsorily undergo sickle cell counselling, screening and test before marriage, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Balarabe Shehu Kakale has disclosed.

Kakale dropped the hint Sunday at a ceremony to mark the 2017 World Sickle Awareness Day in Sokoto.

He said the law will also make it compulsory for such proposed couples to undergo HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B tests.

In the same vein, all would be couples will be compelled to enrol for the state community contributory health scheme.

” In the same vein, all potential grooms will be made to include long lasting insecticide treated nets in their bridal wares.

”” All these measures are targeted at further reducing the menace of these diseases in the state,” he pointed out.

The ceremony was organized by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with a Non-Governmental Organization, The Productive Youths Development Initiative.

The Commissioner also  said the ministry will convene a high-powered seminar to be attended by medical experts, traditional and religious leaders, as well as other stakeholders on the issue.

He, hitherto explained that the seminar will agree on the positions of the law, Islam and culture before the law is promulgated.

According to him”  The ministry will thereafter sponsor a private bill to the state House of Assembly in this direction.

”’ The assembly will then debate the bill and upon passing into law,jt will be made compulsory for would-be couples to undergo the test.

”This is to further reduce the prevalence of the disease in the state and the country.”

‎Kakale further stressed the need for people in the state to enrol under the contributory health scheme, to reduce costs of treating such diseases like sickle cell and all its complications, noting that it will take care of diseases like hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, liver, kidney and heart diseases, as well as fractures caused by road traffic crashes, among others.

In her brief remarks, Wife of the state Governor, Hajiya Mariya Tambuwal,represented by Dr Zainab Tori, pledged to support people living with sickle cell and other diseases.

Also, the District Head of Gagi, Sokoto South Local Government, Alhaji Sani Umar, urged that traditional and religious leaders should be involved in all health affairs in the state.

Umar further urged that more attention should be given to the rural areas, saying,” majority of the disease burdens are being carried by rural dwellers.”

In the same vein,  Chairman of the organization, Dr Awwal Ahmed, said the ceremony was organized to raise awareness on the disease,as well as the need for pre-marital counselling, screening and testing for genotypes to avoid vulnerability.

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