Ethical Treatment of Children with Sickle Cell Disease

AfinikiAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), 200,000 African infants are born annually with sickle cell. Nigeria accounts for about three quarters of these babies and there are about 100,000 infant sickle cell deaths in Nigeria each year.

Afiniki Akanet was born in Kaduna, Nigeria. Although her parents and siblings are not affected by the condition, she became a voice for sufferers of sickle cell when she married a man with the condition after emigrating to England in 2000. Afiniki has an MBChB (equivalent to M.D. in the U.S.A.) from the University of Warwick. As part of her post-graduate work, she identified a set of principles to guide ethical treatment of children with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). Her work is included in the digital library hosted by the Child Rights International Network, a global research, policy and advocacy organization, whose work is grounded in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Dr Akanet, now employed by the British National Health Service (NHS), explains that “there is still some stigma and poor healthcare associated with SCD in Africa. As a Nigerian-born UK-trained doctor, I believe that healthcare is not just about treating illness. It is about treating the person as a whole through empathy, patient education and evidence-based medicine delivered in a professional and ethical manner.” Afiniki talks about attitudes to sickle cell disease in her novel, Fortitude.

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