The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the aim of the initiative was for sickle cell patients to have access to affordable, fast and reliable monthly check-ups and first aid care.
Ms Abimbola Ogunmekan, Founder and Coordinator of the NGO, told NAN that the clinic would afford carriers the opportunity to meet with different consultants and specialists on the same day.
“We decided to start the clinic, this month, to commemorate the World Sickle Cell Day which was on June 19. After today, we will be doing it monthly, most likely every last Saturday of the month.
“We have about six consultants in the clinic and they will all see patients without any consultation fee for three months,” she said.
According to her, the clinic will allow carriers to see consultants ranging from Surgical Units to Psychiatrist, Psychologist, and Haematologist among others on the same day.
“I have been running this support group for about three years now.
“It is observed that people self-medicate, either because they don’t have enough money to go to the hospital or because they don’t want to go through the stress of hospital processes.
“So I decided to talk to some of my bosses who are consultants in various fields at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, that cater for sickle cell patients to come here, at least, once a month to see these patients.
“They are all here today talking to them, letting them know how to care and manage their health; those who need referral are given and sent to the best specialists for further diagnosis and treatment,“ she said.
Ogunmekan, urged carriers not to wait till they were faced with problems before they visit hospital for check-up.
According to her, sickle cell patients are supposed to see their doctors at least twice a month.
“You should see a doctor even when you are feeling fine.Go for random check so that if there is any issue coming up, it will be dictated and managed in good time.’’
She said at the end of the support programme, patients would be required to pay a token for subscription to access care.
The founder said carriers wanting to see the calibre of doctors her group got outside of the clinic would probably be paying N30, 000 and above to see one consultant.
Dr Seun Odiase, a General Practitioner and and advocate for sickle cell awareness in Nigeria, urged carriers to be optimistic that they would live and grow old in the condition.
“We always advise people we call sickle cell warriors that, sickle cell is not a death sentence.
“There is even more than hope for them because we have medications, and other forms of treatment for people living with sickle cell basically.
“The people with sickle cell have children and they live long; so for whatever young age that you are, you should have positive mindset.
“Take your medication and meet with the right consultants and doctors and everything will be fine,’’ he urged.
Ms Elemoro Latifat, a carrier, expressed joy that she was able to meet with specialists who specialised in caring for sickle cell patients.
“This is a good opportunity for me to see all my doctors in one place, because I have always been having issues at my clinic.
“Due to the rigorous activities over there, and the fact that when you get there sometimes they would tell you that you are late. So I don’t visit clinic at all.
“They will never get your card on time and when they manage to bring out your card, they will tell you this specialist is not on seat come back another day.
“That is why I always prefer to stay in my house, but here we have all of them in one place; very friendly and relating to us as if we are colleagues,’’ she said.
NAN reports that the programme was in conjunction with Doctoral Health, a health facility for medical practitioners and Thalamus Health, Haematology among others.
(By Lydia Ngwakwe – NAN)