The federal government on Friday ruled out enacting a legislation or law that will prohibit marriage between two persons who are carriers of the Sickle Cells Anaemia genes.
The clarification came amid clamour for a mandatory provision that will compel any carrier to reveal his status before marriage.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute said it would be undemocratic to push for such legislation.
Awute, while addressing journalists on the World Sickle Cell Day, said: “Ours is a democracy, we don’t want to have a confrontational approach.
“Most people are usually unaware of their case, awareness is the most veritable tool for reducing Sickle Cell, that is what we need to do,” he said.
The permanent secretary maintained that to enact a law that would prevent two persons who are carriers would amount to “criminalising the act of love.”
He explained that with religious bodies; churches and other place of worship now talking about Sickle Cell. The best approach remained “Sensitisation, mobilisation and awareness.”
He further debunked claims that the disease was caused by supernatural powers, arguing that, “Today gives us the opportunity to debunk the myth and harmful prejudices associated with Sickle Cell Disease as some people believe that the disease is a curse or is associated with witchcraft.”
Awute added that “this has led to stigmatisation and discrimination against persons with the disease.”
It is estimated that about 150,000 are born annually in Nigeria with the disease; mortality arising from complications of the disease occur majorly in children under the age of five and pregnant women.
To tackle the disease, Awute stated that government had now developed a national guideline for prevention and control of the disease, including adoption of modern methods to treat cases.
Part of the strategy to stem the tide of the disease he said, was the establishment of centres for the management of Sickle Cell Disease.
The World Sickle Cell Day was set outside by the United Nations ( UN ) General Assembly on 19th June, 2008 to drum support for awareness and recognition of the burden associated with the disease.