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– By Tayo Faloye

…in her bid to be separated from him and the drama that ensued, family members had to intervene and were asked to see a Pastor. They obliged. A pastor was consulted. He requested their personal details for use in seeking God’s face on their matter and asked them to come back days later. On the return visit, Pastor proclaimed God told him during prayers they are destined to be spouses. The rest is history.

They’re married with four children. The 1st & 2nd children respectively came forth free of of Sickle Cell. It was testimonies galore. However, their joy was cut short. Their 3rd & 4th babies arrived with the dreaded disorder. They are battling now with the result of their indiscretion. It was an avoidable risk; a costly one. Did God really speak through that pastor? Did God play a role in bringing those kids into the world to undergo life threatening crisis and complications – a life of trauma? No, God never authors confusion. It’s simply “Cause and Effect.”

It brings us to the salient issue. Do we continue to bypass the basis of the problem which is curtailing the breeding cycle of SCD babies while focusing on other aspects, which may be, no doubt, vital too? Perhaps, we do not take into cognizance that even if all was perfect with our health system in relation to Sickle Cell, it could eventually be overwhelmed without trying to stem the astronomic birth rate of SCD babies in a rapidly booming population as ours by ensuring strict adherence to genotype compatibility before marriage? It isn’t farfetched why Nigeria is the epicentre of SCD in the world. For how long then are we going to continue to put the chart before the horse?

How do we achieve this, you may want to ask.

As the sickle cell community seek government’s intervention in the provision of affordable healthcare for persons living with the disorder, establishment of newborn screening centres, ending stigmatization, discrimination, promoting inclusive opportunities in workplaces among others through a comprehensive Sickle Cell law for the country, we must also agitate for penal clauses to stem the procreation of babies with Sickle Cell. People cannot be left to their whims any longer, if we must gain some meaningful milestones in the battle against SCD. This is the fundamental of it. Let’s instill discipline and encourage couples to be responsible with their relationship and marital choices.

The clauses should be PREVENTIVE & PUNITIVE. Preventive will ensure mandatory measures for premarital genotype screening for intending couples in compliance with the compatibility model while Punitive is to enforce consequences for defaulting couples who by their actions are found culpable in escalating the SCD health problem. By so doing, It would also serve as a deterrent to other would-be couples.

– Tayo Faloye

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