The bill which came into force on April 30, 2019, repealed the same law passed and enacted into law in 2002 by 2nd Assembly of the state legislative chamber.
It was sponsored by Hon. Charles Ezeani of Anaocha II State Constituency and others.
According to the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Rita Maduagwu, 4 new paragraphs were inserted into the bill before passage.
Among other things, the bill intends to mandate intending couples to obtain ‘sickle cell status’ certificate to be issued by qualified licensed medical lab scientists before marriage. It also empowers the state ministry of education to introduce genetic education in secondary and tertiary institutions; as well as to monitor teams to be run by the state ministry of health across the 21 local government areas, and for professional treatment and employment of sickle cellpatients.
The bill will help people living with sickle cell diseases not to pass through excruciating pains while trying to obtain medicare, guarantee their fundamental, social and political rights, as well as prevent spreading of the diseases or total elimination of anemia.
Hon. Charles Chukwuma Ezeani, who sponsored the bill, told journalists that “I had the opportunity when I was young to live with a family where almost all the children were living with sickle cell disease, and in my very presence, all the male children died. Some of the girls also died. So, with that I felt I was living with sickle cell disease. When I came to the House of Assembly, I collaborated with the association of people living with sickle cell and my colleagues in the House, to come up with this new law. ”
Expressing appreciation to the lawmakers for passing the sickle cell bill into law, the National Coordinator of Association of Persons Living With Sickle Cell Anaemia, Ms Aisha Edward, said it would go a long way in addressing the needs of her members as “they go through a lot of discrimination and experience marginalization in virtually every sphere of their lives and existence as human beings. They are not given jobs; they are physically unfit and could die any moment.
“Some unavoidable evils that come with the Sickle Cell Disorder, like ulcer of the leg, could really mess up the person’s physical appearance; and employers equally use that as grounds not to employ anemic persons. This kills their self-esteem. Women living with the disorder are seen as ill-suited to get married, as they may lose a lot of blood and die during child birth, their husbands perceive them as romantically dysfunctional, hence, cheating on them. Women also take undue advantage of their husbands.”