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Speaker urges full enforcement of Abia blood group, genotype law

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Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Chinedum Orji, has urged for full enforcement of the Abia State Identification Of Blood Group and Genotype Law’ captioned “Abia State Law No 5 of 2018”, which among others, mandate that peoples blood group and genotype should be written/stated on their Identity cards among others.He spoke at the stakeholders workshop organized in Umuahia by the state Governor’s wife, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu’s Vicar Hope Foundation in collaboration with the State Ministry of Health to commemorate this year’s World Sickle Cell Awareness Day.

He said that enactment of the said Law was motivated by the pain and anguish of sufferers of sickle cell disease and their families and tasked the workshop participants to examine the focus of the law and how to more effectively enforce its provisions adding that the 7th Abia House of Assembly that he leads will always provide adequate budgetary allocations to the health sector.

“The purpose of this Law is to reduce the incidence of child mortality and to prevent untold pains and sufferings of individuals from blood and genotype related challenges by ensuring that the blood group and genotype of individuals in the state are clearly stated on their identity cards for easier access to healthcare, and ensuring that no Institution or Registry in the state shall perform any marriage ceremony for couples without ascertaining their genotypes compatibility and blood group”.

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In her address, Mrs. Ikpeazu said that it was the emotional trauma and economic hardship caused by sickle cell anemia to victims and their parents that motivated her Vicar Hope Foundation to make the disease the centre point of its activities.According to her, the workshop purpose was to create awareness and stimulate interest in matters relating to sickle cell prevention, management, research for cure and the challenges faced by carriers of the disease.

“This workshop will give the attendees insight into the disease and modern methods of diagnosing it and also examine the import of the Law and how best it can be put into use in order to save the future child from the burden of the disease through enforcement and sensitization.”

She commended the state house of assembly for promptly passing the Law when she approached it after she realized that it is not enough to build clinics and give counseling and care.“I discovered that if I really wanted to make an impression, I must seek actions that are more impactful. That is how I came to partner with the state house of Assembly who speedily passed the bill into this Law”.

On the cause of the sickle cell disease, a Consultant Physician at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital and former state Health Commissioner, Dr. John Chikezie, who chaired the opening ceremony, described sickle cell as a non communicable but genetic disease that suffers both the victim and his family stressing that it is easily preventable if intending marriage couples’ blood group and genotypes are compatible.

Discussions and presentations on the subject matter were presented by Barrister Chidinma Alozie of International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA) who lectured on “Understanding The Provision of the Law No. 5 of 2018”; Mr. Ibe. U. Ibe on “Modern Diagnosis and Testing Methods for Sickle Cell Disease”; and another by Dr. Andrew Ekhoragbon as resource persons.

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