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Bill on compulsory premarital screening for sickle cell, hepatitis to receive accelerated passage – YSHA

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By Bala Dauda, Damaturu

 

The Yobe State House of Assembly has assured that the House will grant accelerated passage to Anti Stigma Bill Amendments for Sickle Cell Disease, Hepatitis and Related Matters Screening Before Marriage in Yobe State.

Alhaji Kachalla Ajiya Maina, Chairman, House Committee on Health, disclosed this in Damaturu at a stakeholders’ review meeting on the bill.

Our correspondent reports that the bill is sponsored by the state Ministry of Health and Human Services in collaboration with Sickle Cell Disease Eradication Initiatives ( SICKDEI).

Ajiya noted that the bill, if eventually passed into law, would address the burden of the disease in the state.

He, however, said critical stakeholders such as religious organisations, NGO’s, government and security agencies must play their parts for the successful implementation of the law.

In his remarks, the state Commissioner of Health, Dr Muhammad Gana, represented by Dr Hauwa Goni, noted that the bill, if passed into law, would also address stigma attached to the disease.

Gana listed objectives of the bill to include empowering the ministry to oversee, coordinate, and supervise prevention, control, management and reduction in sickle cell disease and hepatitis.

He said others were promoting public awareness and education as well as enhancing access to screening and treatment for the diseases.

The Chief Executive Officer ( CEO), SICKDEI, Dr Aliyu Mohammed, noted that the state had the highest prevalence rate of sickle cell and viral hepatitis in the Northeast.

Under the bill, he said, new born children and couples who wished to get married must undergo screening against sickle cell, hepatitis and HIV.

Mohammed said the essence of the meeting was to give critical stakeholders the opportunity to provide more inputs in the bill before it would be presented to the House.

He listed importance of the screening to include prevention of genetic diseases, reduced risk of infertility, reduction in healthcare cost and making informed decision about reproductive health.

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