Sickle Cell Disease: Expert emphasises use of HPLC for genotype test

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Dr Emeka Nwakamma, the Chief Medical Director of a health foundation in Umuahia, has urged government to ensure the use of High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) for genotype test to reduce recurring cases of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).

He made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia on Monday.

NAN reports that HPLC, formerly referred to as High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography, is a technique in analytical chemistry used to separate, identify and quantify specific components in mixtures.

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Hb HPLC is essential for diagnosing SCD, thalassemia and rare hemoglobin disorders.

Nwakamma, who said he had been treating SCD patients, regretted that “even in this contemporary times, false laboratory test results are aiding marriages that produce SCD children.

“That is why our foundation insists on the use of HPLC genotype test before marriage.

“This equipment is available and should be in every government hospital laboratory.

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“HPLC is sensitive and specific and has advantage over electrophoresis for quantifying Hb F and Hb A2, and can detect other variants in a single screening test.

“However, the HPLC test is expensive, which is the reason why we are urging  government to come in and subsidise.’’

Nwakamma, who is also the Medical Director of Nkechi Medical Centre, Ohanze Obingwa, said “SCD is becoming endemic in Nigeria, it needs extra effort from government to checkmate it.’’

He urged government to implement the Blood Group and Genotype Law that ensures all individuals have their blood group and genotype on their identification card (ID) cards.

“This will be a quick pointer to genotype incompatibility prior to marriage and procreation,’’ he added.

He explained that the greatest challenges associated with SCD are the huge financial and emotional costs, leading families to use up their savings for medical expenses.

He suggested that “government should, as a matter of urgency, formulate a Healthcare Insurance Model that reduces the cost of care for people with the disease.

“Government should stop discrimination and stigmatisation of people with SCD in the workplace due to recurrent illnesses, and ensure they don’t lose jobs because of frequent hospital stays.’’(NAN)

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