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The Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF) Is Raising Awareness For Genotype Checks Today

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sickle cell
Sickle Cell Disease is a challenge faced by many Nigerian families. It is a genetic blood disorder characterized by sickle-shaped red blood cells. The affected sickle blood cells die much earlier than normal blood cells, causing a constant blood shortage in the carrier. The sickle shape of the cells also results in them getting stuck and obstructing blood flow, causing intense pain, sometimes stroke, and acute chest syndrome.
Sickle Cell Disease is most common in Africa, with Nigeria having the highest prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the past few years, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Societies, and Governments have tried to increase awareness of sickle cell disease. As a result, the average Nigerian has heard about or knows a little about Sickle Cell Disease. Despite the awareness efforts by these organizations about Sickle Cell Disease, a chunk of the population are still sadly in the dark when it comes to knowledge of the disease.
A leading cause of Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria is ignorance. Older generations largely struggle with knowing and understanding what their Blood Groups or Genotypes represent.

An interview conducted by the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF) on three families living with Sickle Cell Disease, highlighted Mrs. A, the parent of a Warrior, whose mother disclosed to her that her genotype was AA. She did not do a confirmatory blood test. She was five months into her first pregnancy before a routine blood test during her ante-natal visit confirmed that her genotype was AS and not AA.
The lack of facilities for newborn screening in Nigerian hospitals is yet another factor. The sickle cell trait is not often discovered in a child until he falls sick. Superstitious and traditional beliefs often come to bear in such situations.
Mohammed noticed that her infant son was sickly, unable to eat, and unable to sleep. Conclusions from these abnormal conditions provided an excessive consumption of bananas as the culprit. It later turns out that a visit to the hospital and some blood tests revealed that the child was a carrier of sickle cell disease. Unfortunately, most other parents would have gone ahead to treat the child with traditional infusions and concoctions, further making the child worse.
Worst-case scenario, when such a child dies, there is a label of an Abiku or an Ogbanje attached. Primary health care centers in the geopolitical zones have been equipped with machines for prenatal screening but, findings suggest that certain factors especially power shortage have made it impossible to utilize.
Managing sickle cell disease is a time-consuming and expensive venture. Unfortunately, most people living with the disease cannot afford to pay for medications, treatments, and blood transfusions when necessary.
Chukwuemeka, who married a warrior, encouraged people living with Sickle Cell Disease to open up about their conditions, and not hide it from their spouses. According to her, his honesty led to her falling in love with him and marrying him.
Adaraloye advised that genotype talk should be one of the earliest topics of discussion for young people in relationships. No one should wait until the relationship is well underway before revealing each other’s genotypes or taking the blood test to confirm their genotypes.
While there are medical ways to combat the disease, he advised that those methods are not without their attendant risks and are not worth the pain associated with the disease. Raising a warrior child has been a difficult task, but with cooperation and understanding in the family, they have been able to manage it.
Mohammed had something similar to say. Two intending couples with the AS genotype have no business getting married. In his words, “there is nothing like love, forget about love”.
Sickle cell disease does not appear to be going anywhere soon as more children are born with the disease. Without conscious efforts by individuals and the government to reduce and eventually eradicate the disease, new cases will only continue to rise. The onus is on individuals to know and ascertain their genotypes before marriage. It is the responsibility of every parent to ensure that they do not birth new sickle cell warriors.
Civil societies also need to keep up and raise their levels of awareness on the disease; citizens need to be enlightened on the pain and suffering that sickle cell warriors face. The bulk of the work falls on governments at all levels to properly equip medical centers and hospitals to make them adequate for the early detection and subsequent treatment of the disease.
Sponsorship of further research into treatment methods for the disease should be a priority for the government. While the only known cure for the disease is bone marrow transplants, other palliative treatments should be available at little or no cost to warriors.
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SCOOP | How Eno Quagraine Is Helping Expectant Mothers With Her App

SCOOP | How Eno Quagraine Is Helping Expectant Mothers With Her App

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Eno
Meet Eno Quagraine, a Ghanaian developer, and founder of the Talkative Mother App. Eno did not start out intending to build an app at all. The initiative was born from a deeply emotional personal experience.
Twenty-four hours after the app was launched on the 1st of February 2021, the Talkative Mom app was ranked the number 2 parenting app in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Its popularity in those countries may have been short-lived but for the Ghanaian developer, it was proof of a huge demand amongst expectant mothers for a crucial commodity: information.
 
The Talkative Mother App has four distinct features: a motherhood-specific search engine called “Mom Plug’’ where users can ask questions on parenting and search results that apply to the Ghanaian context; “Marketplace”, where vendors can sell parenting goods; the regular Blog from Quagraine and finally, “Listings” for service providers. The app carries contributions from certified experts such as speech and language therapists, paediatricians, sex coaches, breastfeeding specialists and nutritionists.
 
Quagraine explained that “Marketplace” has been particularly well received by expectant parents. “This unique feature makes them find all the Ghanaian products they want but are so difficult to locate.’’
It’s the blog, however, which seems to keep users coming back for more. One of the reasons is that amongst the stories shared by mothers, there is plenty of comic relief. However, it is the information provided on the app that remains its best selling point.
 
Dzidzor Arkutu a regular user of the app had this to say in a review:

“There are so many apps around but most of them are foreign and don’t address our local needs. This app is unique because it speaks to the issues bothering the Africans, which we feel very shy to talk about. My children’s paediatrician is even there so it makes direct access to medical services easy.”

With thousands of users regularly visiting the platform, major brands have been keen to get on board, too.
“I have worked for so many brands, like Boomerang, Vlisco and Pepsodent and I am still working with others. These are opportunities I would never have gotten if I did not take the bold step to share my motherhood journey,” said Quagraine.

In October 2021, Quagraine started her television show – aimed at young African mothers.
The 31-year-old mother with a masters in marketing now aims to take Talkative Mom to every mother on the continent. While that points to huge personal ambition, it is the message that keeps her motivated.
“What makes me more excited is when I hear people tell me how my app is helping them on their motherhood journey,” she said.
 
Culled from ACE SAID SO
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Chioma Ozoemelam: Diseases You Can Prevent  By Washing Your Hands | READ

Chioma Ozoemelam: Diseases You Can Prevent  By Washing Your Hands | READ

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disease washing

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been reminded to wash our hands, and have even been taught the proper way to do so. Beyond COVID-19, there are many other reasons to wash our hands. We can prevent a lot of illnesses by just washing our hands.

As our hands come in contact with various people, animals, foods, and surfaces, they pick up thousands of germs, bacteria, and viruses that can make you sick if they enter your body. Washing your hands has the power to minimise or even eliminate the risk of getting sick for you and those around you. The following illnesses are just a few of the ones that you can prevent by simply washing your hands.

Pink eye

When your eyes get sticky and super itchy, and have a crusty coating on them in the morning, you probably have conjunctivitis, AKA pink eye. Since people rub their eyes to alleviate the discomfort and then touch their surroundings, the virus or bacteria that cause ‘pink eye’ ends up on all sorts of surfaces where it can live for hours or even days. Children are at particular risk for infection and transmission because they like to explore and this exposes them to potentially contaminated objects.

Typhoid

A big reason to wash your hands more often is that you’re touching poop particles way more than you realise. That’s exactly how salmonella, the bacteria that causes typhoid, gets passed around. The infection spreads when bacteria pass into people’s mouths through food, water, hands, or objects contaminated with fecal matter (poop). It’s often transmitted through infected food that hasn’t been fully cooked (meat and eggs) or washed thoroughly (fruits and vegetables), and when you don’t properly wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing a baby’s diapers.

The flu

The flu can be deadly, and not just to those who are very young, very old, or immunocompromised. The 2017–2018 flu season was particularly dangerous with the CDC reporting 80,000 related deaths (including 180 children). Aside from getting the flu shot, handwashing is a key preventive measure, especially when you’re exposed to flu germs without knowing it.

Staphylococcus infection

Caused by a bacteria commonly found on the skin and in the noses of healthy people, staph can become life-threatening if the bacteria gets deep into your body and infects your blood, joints, and heart. Things can get particularly dangerous with an antibiotic-resistant strain of staph called MRSA. A staph infection may look like a boil or blister, or even just redness on the skin. The stubborn bacterium can live on inanimate objects, such as towels or gym equipment. If you wash your hands, you will lessen the risk of these bacteria being transmitted from person to person.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Almost all children will have an RSV infection by the time they turn two. The thing is, you will probably just think your child has a cold. But in some children, especially those born prematurely, and in people over 65 with weakened immune systems, this virus can cause breathing problems, pneumonia, bronchiolitis or worse. Like other respiratory illnesses, coughing and sneezing send infected droplets through the air and onto surfaces.

Hepatitis A

The good news: Hepatitis A doesn’t cause chronic liver disease like its cousins, B and C. The bad news: it can still make you really sick, causing gastrointestinal problems, fever, fatigue, and jaundice. In some cases, it can even cause acute liver failure and necessitate hospitalisation. You’ll likely hear about Hepatitis A outbreaks at restaurants, since this virus is often transmitted when someone hasn’t washed their hands after using the bathroom before preparing your food, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Strep throat

While viruses often cause sore throats, if a strep test determines that yours is caused by the bacteria group A Streptococcus, you’ll need antibiotics. Not only can strep throat cause discomfort and be highly contagious to others, but in some cases, it can also lead to scarlet fever, rheumatic fever and other life-threatening complications. According to the CDC, coughing, and sneezing spreads small respiratory droplets containing the bacteria. You can’t always stop someone from coughing or sneezing on you, but you can control your own handwashing habits.

Other diarrhoeal diseases

Feces (poop) from people or animals is an important source of germs like Salmonella, E. coli O157, and norovirus that cause diarrhea.

These kinds of germs can get onto hands after people use the toilet or change a diaper, but also in less obvious ways, like after handling raw meats that have invisible amounts of animal poop on them. Hand washing can prevent about 30% of diarrhoea-related sickness.

The common cold

While not as serious as these other diseases, a cold can still make you feel miserable and ruin your week. One study found that handwashing can lower your risk of catching a respiratory illness by a whopping 45 percent.

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Hand-foot-and-mouth disease

If you have kids or  work around them, handwashing can help prevent this uncomfortable infection caused by the coxsackievirus. Common in daycares and preschools, hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) causes sores on the mouth and throat, a rash on the hands and feet, a fever and loss of appetite. What gets you sick, exactly? Contagion particles from an infected person’s nose, mouth, blisters, and feces that get on your hands and then into your mouth. This is exactly why you should be washing your hands regularly and teaching your kids to do the same. Also encourage them to keep their hands out of their mouths, while you’re at it.

Mononucleosis

You probably know it as “the kissing disease,” but mono, and the Epstein-Barr virus that causes it, is not only transmitted through kissing. Saliva is the main culprit, so objects that an infected person has sneezed on, coughed on, or touched could subsequently infect you should. Sharing drinks or utensils is also a common way to spread this. If you do come down with mono, you’ll experience extreme fatigue, high fever, body aches, a very sore throat, and an enlarged spleen. Symptoms usually last between two and four weeks but sometimes longer.

Cytomegalovirus

Here’s another reason to be vigilant about handwashing if you’re pregnant. Good hygiene can prevent the transmission of this virus in the herpes family that can cause serious harm to your unborn child, including hearing and vision loss, intellectual disability, and even death.

 

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Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

Originally Posted on BellaNaija

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Check Out 5 Gentle Wisdoms That Make Life Worth Living

And happiness remains a worthy goal — as long as you know what it looks like to you and you don’t set the bar so high that you constantly feel you’re falling short.

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Life advice shouldn’t yell at you — it should whisper.

It should gently land on you in a way that makes — no, allows — you to think, to absorb it in your own time, in your way. Especially now, especially in a world that’s been tipped upside down by a pandemic.

Life advice is given in a SHOUTY!!! voice makes me smile. Because it seems like the person giving it has life sorted; they know what they’re doing. When I’m not sure anyone does — ever.

Life Won’t Do What You Tell It To

The trouble with all life advice is that it tries to impose law and order onto the business of living. But life’s chaotic and unpredictable — and it doesn’t always react well to being told what to do.

Also read A Nigerian woman living in the United States explains why living in Nigeria is less costly.

Still, it’s important to develop an approach that allows you to see and pursue opportunity — and to cope well with whatever difficulties come your way.

And happiness remains a worthy goal — as long as you know what it looks like to you and you don’t set the bar so high that you constantly feel you’re falling short.

Here are five ideas for making life worthwhile — or at least to think about amidst the madness.

1. Be bothered. Even a little bit.

“Action is the antidote to despair.” ―Joan Baez

A lot of people who sign up for therapy have lost their mojo — their motivation. They’ll say: “I just can’t be bothered.” They’re not necessarily clinically depressed — just flat and fatigued — and there’s nothing like a global pandemic for promoting those feelings. They’re everywhere.

It’s important to stay invested in your own life. When you’re struggling, tell yourself to “be bothered”, even if it’s on a tiny scale. Every one of those tiny acts adds up. Keep trying.

2. Make things. In your way.

“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its perfect moments out of ordinary ones.” — Bruce Garrabrandt

My friend’s dad had an antidote for feeling down — go out in the shed and make something: It always made him feel better. While not an evidenced-based cure for depression, I’ve seen creativity bring people out of a difficult place, over and over again. So have a project you enjoy returning to. Or just make something — a meal, a jar of jam, a garden, a jigsaw puzzle, a piece of art, a poem, a video, a game, a wood carving, a song, a piece of code, a spreadsheet — anything. Acts of creativity engage your brain in healthy ways. Make space for them.

3. Borrow someone else’s glasses.

“The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire lives believing the only perspective that matters is their own.” — Doug Baldwin

The way you see the world is just the way you see the world. It’s just your truth. Nothing more, nothing less. Constantly looking at the world through your lens will blur your vision. Next time someone’s worldview upsets you, pause and try to see their angle. You don’t have to agree with them, but just seeking to understand (or just reminding yourself that your truth is not theirs) will broaden your worldview. Being able to understand how things (truly) are for another person is a masterclass. But it’s one worth signing on for.

4. Banter. Anywhere.

“I am a part of all that I have met.” — Lord Tennyson

If banter’s not your thing, just make small talk. At the park.

On the street. In the carpark. In the lift. Over the supermarket counter. Doing the dishes.

A lot of people say they hate small talk but I find that a little strange. Small talk can turn into Big talk. And, even if it doesn’t, there can still be value in it — if not for you, then for someone else.

Social connection, on any level, is important. Research tells us so and the pandemic has provided an avalanche of evidence. Here’s the thing, though. You don’t have to have Big Meaningful Connections or deep conversations to get (or give) the benefits. A chat over the fence, a shared exchange, a show of interest in someone else, a laugh, even a smile, can lift the spirits. Initiate them.

5. Every day’s a party. Sort of.

“Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.” — Joanne Harris

I know, this one’s debatable, every day is NOT a party. Some days are hard. Some days will test us. Others may bring us to our knees. But there is always a bright spot amidst the murk. Where — and wherever — you can, look for the gold in your days. Where — and wherever — you can, celebrate it. Author Loretta LaRoche says it better than I can: “Life is short, wear your party pants.”

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Culled from Medium
Written by Karen Nimmo
Photo by cotton bra from Pexels
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