Know Your Rhesus Factor Before Childbearing, Minister Tells Nigerians

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Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole

Martins Ifijeh

As part of plans to save couples from undue agony of miscarriage, still birth and child death, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has advised Nigerians to seek information on the status of their Rhesus factor before embarking on childbearing.

Adewole said if laws are put in place to compel unmarried couples to seek the status before getting married; it will address issues around childbearing.

Stating this at a symposium organised by Rhesus Solution Initiative at the Sickle Cell Foundation Centre in Idi-Araba, Lagos recently, the minister, urged the National Assembly to enact laws that would compel unmarried couples to find out about their Rhesus factors before getting married.

The minister who was represented by the Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof. Chris Bode, said: “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, President, Rhesus Solutions Initiative, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Banire, said the objective of the foundation was to eradicate the disease through advocacy, partnership with 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 may arise before or after delivery,” 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 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.