Dr. David Ajibade: Work On The Immune System and Live Virtually Free Of SCD Complications

‘Defenseless and Exposed’ (Sickle Cell Disorder and The Immune System)

By David Ajibade MBBS

When the Ahmeds – a mother and her four children – first came to one of our Friday free clinics, she told me that, for most of her 16 years of marriage, not a month had gone by without a hospital admission for one or more of her children.

Dr. David Ajibade

Unfortunately, this is the plight of too many a parent with a child (or children) living with the dreaded condition known as sickle cell disease (SCD).  As a charity providing free support to children with brain disorders (cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, etc), we never expected to be involved in the sickle cell disease space…not by any stretch. But somehow, we were “dropkicked” into this world when we started receiving visits from children who had sustained multiple strokes.

Strokes occur in over 10% of individuals with SCD (peak age is between 2-16 years)

This is tragic.  We felt compelled to act. So, in keeping with our philosophy, we began to look for gaps – areas individuals with SCD were known to be weak in – and explore approaches to closing them. We found there were at least four. We started addressing each one in turn, beginning with the immune system.

If we cannot stop this scourge, we can definitely rein it in.  I call on all Nigerians to join in the fight to include these supplements in the list of routine medications given to SCD warriors.

David Ajibade

“Defenseless and Exposed”

Most deaths in SCD occur before the age of five.

In Nigeria, that’s about 100,000 deaths. This is tragic. But it is also preventable. Think with me here…the commonest cause of death in SCD is infection. Infections are also among the commonest triggers for a crisis.

In countries like the USA and UK, provision is made for this by including antibiotics and prophylaxis (aka vaccines) against the most frequently occurring infections amongst this demographic.

In Nigeria, there is no such practice.

When you consider the fact that, AS A RULE, SCD warriors have weaker immune systems than the rest of the population, then you can appreciate what a tragedy this truly is.

It is as if a military general were to send his troops out into the battlefield without ammunition or protective armour…they would be slaughtered. You don’t have to be a military genius to know that.

And yet, this is precisely what we do every day in every clinic in Nigeria when we attend to warriors without adequately supporting their immune systems.

We can do better…We MUST do better…for the sake or our children

Thankfully, there are simple things we can start implementing to address this gap. We can start by prescribing safe immune system supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D3 and zinc. These are all readily affordable, require no prescription (unlike hydroxyurea) and are widely available.

From our work with hundreds of SCD warriors at the foundation, we have been able to demonstrate conclusively that simply by supporting their immune systems with nutraceuticals we can, in turn, significantly improve their quality of life and reduce their crises frequency. We witness this every week at our free Friday clinics.

Our next step is to do a proper research study to reproduce these results in government hospitals. The goal being to change the policy of management of this condition to include the use of immune support supplements.

 As for the Ahmeds, I am happy to report that their hospital visits have reduced to almost zero, and their mother has reported that, for the first time in her sixteen years of marriage, she was able to complete a full Ramadan fast.

If we cannot stop this scourge, we can definitely rein it in.  I call on all Nigerians to join in the fight to include these supplements in the list of routine medications given to SCD warriors.

In the next article, we will be talking about other areas warriors are weak in, and what can be done about them.

Dr David Ajibade is the founder and Executive Director of the Brain and Body Foundation. He works in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health to provide support for medically fragile children – children with chronic, disabling medical conditions such as sickle cell disease and brain disorders.

To reach Dr Ajibade, please send an email to info@brainandbodyfoundation.org or visit him at www.BrainAndBodyFoundation.org

Social media: @drdavidajibade (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter)

Call: +234 8063656715 or +19186950752


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