“If a woman is rhesus negative and the husband positive, the woman should be indexed, and take rhesus injection, that way the baby’s life is saved”
Experts have urged government to critically assess the nation’s rhesus disease awareness and management situation, with the view to aligning with the global elimination efforts as well as provide free rhogam at all level of primary health centres.
Speaking at a symposium in Lagos to mark 50 years of rhesus disease prevention, Professor of Surgery and Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Chris Bode, said it was gratifying that 50 years ago an epochal treatment was found for a disease that was killing babies.
He suggested a law that would make it compulsory that babies’ blood group must be known.
“If a woman is rhesus negative and the husband is rhesus positive, and then the woman should be indexed, that is marked and be told to take rhesus injection, that way the baby’s life is saved and would not die,” he said.
The CMD said unlike other blood test that stigmatise people, “this is different and does not carry stigmatization. Therefore, nobody will frown at you whether you are rhesus negative or positive. Healthcare is no more an exclusive purvey of government alone; each person has access to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and everyone should be able to make use of that. People should be able to walk into a laboratory and ask for their blood test to be done.
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“Knowing your blood group, whether A, O, B, AB, rhesus negative or positive, will help you prepare, particularly as a woman, when pregnant to know whether you will take the injection or not,” he advised.
On her part, founder, Rhesus Solution Initiative (RSI), Jemilat Olufunmilayo Banire, said about 49.5 million women in reproductive age, approximately three million are rhesus negative, while 435, 449 babies out of an estimated annual birth of about 7.3 million, may be at risk of rhesus diseases, a situation that leaves mothers with psychological and physiological trauma.
Said she: “While growing up as rhesus negative person, at a very tender age, I became aware of it, and later realise that this situation is a very peculiar situation, in that not a quite percentage of population is rhesus negative.”
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