The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has advised Nigerian couples to know their Rhesus factor before making babies so as to save them the agony of having miscarriages and stillbirths.
Adewole, who was represented by the Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Chris Bode, at a symposium organised by Rhesus Solution Initiative at the Sickle Cell Foundation Centre in Idi-Araba, Lagos on Wednesday, urged the National Assembly to enact laws that would compel unmarried couples to find out about their Rhesus factors before getting married.
He said, “It will be very simple if we make a law that says every man and woman who wants to make a baby should know their blood group. If a woman is Rhesus-negative and the husband happens to be positive, that woman will be told that whenever she is having her babies, she should take the Rhogam injection. That way, their babies will not die from this easily preventable disease.”
In her welcome address, the President of the Rhesus Solutions Initiative, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Banire, said the objective of the foundation was to eradicate the disease through advocacy, partnering government and traditional birth attendants, educating the school pupils and making free donations of Rhogam injections.
“When the pregnant woman is Rhesus-negative, there is the possibility that the blood in the foetus might be the blood of her Rhesus positive husband. So, complications arise before or after delivery and the baby is lost,” she said.
The Co-chair, Consortium for Universal Rh-disease Elimination, Emeritus Prof. Alvin Zipursky, called on the Nigerian media to help educate the public on the disease.
Zipursky, who was represented by Prof. Isaac Odame from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, said that everyone must cooperate with the Federal Government to eradicate the disease.
“We don’t always have to wait for government to take the step first. It can start from individuals and the government will get involved to make things happen.
“Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and I think if she leads the way, it will be possible to get it done in Africa,” he said.
Also, presenting a paper themed, ‘Rhesus disease prevention in Nigeria: challenges and prospects,’ Prof. Oluwarotimi Akinola recommended routine antenatal anti-D prophylaxis injection for pregnant women, as well as Anti-D immunoglobulin injection after birth, to prevent the Rhesus disease.
Akinola noted that female education, involvement of religious and traditional leaders, routine blood grouping among donors and recipients, among others, were some of the ways to check the disease in Nigeria.