Raymond Ozoji, Awka
History would be made on Tuesday 30th April this year when it is expected that the 6th Anambra State House of Assembly would pass the bill concerning sickle cell anaemia into law to ensure that people living with sickle cell diseases are no longer made to go through excruciating experiences in order to obtain routine medicare, social and political rights as well as all due to them as human persons devoid of rejection, solitudes, stigmatization and incessant deaths.
On the aforementioned day, stakeholders from all walks of life including the clergy, medical practitioners, association of persons living with sickle cell disorder and a great many others would throng the state assembly complex Awka to witness the event where the lawmakers of the 6th assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Rita Maduagwu would give consent to the bill as well as pass it into law to reduce the sufferings and misfortunes of persons living with sickle cell anaemia.
The bill being championed by Hon. Charles Chukwuma Ezeani of Anaocha 2 state constituency had suffered hiccups following its stepping down on 16th April during plenary as proposed by the representative of Idemili-South state constituency Hon. Chuka Ezewune on the grounds that members of the House were exhausted and couldn’t attend to the bill. Also the chairman of the House Committee on Health and representative of Awka-South 1 state constituency Dr.Nnamdi Godwin Okafor were not present when the bill was pronounced for determination by the Deputy Majority Leader and lawmaker representing Ihiala 2 state constituency Dr. Paschal Agbodike.
However, it took the timely intervention of Hon. Uche Okafor of Ayamelum state constituency to implore members of the House to consider the bill for onward Passage into law. The lawmaker had gone in search of his colleagues to rescind their decisions of vacating plenary on the grounds of fatigue. He explained the importance of the bill and why it is incumbent on the 6th assembly to attend to it to ameliorate the plight of persons living with sickle cell diseases in the state even though members insisted on the next adjourned date of 30th April for delibrations on the bill and possible passage.
The proponent of the bill Hon. Charles Chukwuma Ezeani had told journalists shortly after plenary that “I had an 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. So when I came to the House of Assembly in collaboration with the association of people living with sickle cell, I had to align myself with them and came up with repealing an existing law to take it to the point of getting it eradicated.”
Ezeani said the bill has enjoyed the support of the 6th assembly especially as it concerns eradicating sickle cell disease in the society. The lawmaker posited that “today we would have commenced consideration of the bill but for want of time, it has been moved to be considered in the next adjourned date of 30th of this month. I believe that on that day history will be made in Anambra state.”
Though he observed that government has done virtually nothing to ameliorate the kind of pain and psychological torture that sickle cell patients experience he expressed hope that the law on eradication of sickle cell diseases would accord them their rights and privileges stressing that they were not architects of their own misfortunes.
He further lamented that persons living with sickle cell anaemia were not given opportunities to explore and exploit their potentials as they were denied employments in the public and private sectors of the economy respectively. To this end, he advocated for the presentation of Sickle Cell Disease Prevention Certificate before marriage rites are consummated to avoid endangering the lives of unborn children.
Meanwhile, the coordinator of the Association of Persons Living With Sickle Cell Anaemia in Anambra state Aisha Edward had told journalists that her blood pressure rose when the bill was stepped down during plenary but expressed joy when the representative of Ayamelum state constituency intervened. She also disclosed that the association has buried more than thirty of her members this year due to crisis associated with the ailment. She therefore expressed optimism that the advent of the law on the eradication of sickle cell diseases would greatly reduce deaths resulting from the disease.