Muhammad Kafi Liman, Chairman of Sickle Cell Aid Foundation Shira LGA, Bauchi State has disclosed how Government at all level exhibited insensitivity to the flight of the people to close interstate borders. According to the chairman, the government should first of all look first of all into the severe conditions of sickle cell patients before taking this drastic action of closing of borders.
He explained that drugs price escalation with which they use daily in order to get better life could not be accessed by the patients due to its exorbitant rates. In this interview with KHALID IDRIS DOYA, Mr. Kafi called on Federal Government and state Governments to look into this issue with merciful eyes or to get sickle cell medication free of charge or in the alternative to reduce the price for them to easily get access to those drugs during this period of lockdown.
What brought you here?
I here come to this reputable newspaper in order to tell our message and complain to Federal and state Governments over national lockdown and movement restriction, on behalf of patients who have been suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia disease and others victims across the country. We extend our complain to Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigeria Center For Disease Control NCDC over interstate lockdown, the fact is that our condition will get worse because taking this action will be impacted negatively on our life.
How does this lockdown cause hardship on your life?
Yes, indeed this is not good for us because this lockdown will tremendously affect us and put our life at risk and in constant fear over non availability or shortage of palliatives drugs for relief on Sickle Cell Anemia disease, and it’s possible that we can face shortage of nutritional and proteinaceous food items that will help build our red blood cell from deficiency as a result of this lockdown announced by Government. Government and stake holders are taking drastic measures without due consideration for ordinary people like us in the society. Federal government should supply medication and humanitarian aid for sickle cell patients when the country has gone under lockdown? Up till this time, we have never heard any Government rendering any form of assistance to sickle cell anemia disease patients and Government has failed in protecting the lives for sickle cell patients against this novel corona virus and also failed to create awareness and educate the sickle cell patients on the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, therefore this is why we’re drawing the attention of Federal Government to understand and come to know that sickle cell patients suffers a lot especially when we run out of medicines and the disease is really formenting as long as Government is protecting the lives of citizens. Therefore Government should also protect us like everyone else and design some policies and programmes for us to have easy access to medication and nutrition freely for all sickle cell patients across the country without shortage of the relief items, especially when there are less privileged among us who are hardly survives this shutting down, and the difficulties it would cause them, more especially like us who come from wretched family background.
So now, what actually do you want from Government?
My call to this Government under president Muhammadu Buhari is that the Government should relax this stay at home order because the reality is, we are facing harsh condition under this lockdown and even before this we were suffering, managing our lives because of Government inability to give assistance and we can’t afford to buy the drugs because they are too exorbitant especially blood medications because we used to buy blood bag at the rate of N2,000 then and if Government decided to impose restrictions and on movement over COVID-19 for such a long time, Government is worsening and destabilizing our lives. We are not saying that what Governments did was wrong, but we are saying that the order is very strict, and Federal and State governments should monitor how Sickle cell patients are managing their lives so that measures taking by Government should be in the overall interest of Sickle cell patients.
Are you telling me that this lockdown will skyrocket sickle cell medications?
Yes, it will, because since Friday to Saturday, when I paid a visit to both public and private Hospitals and some Chemists where I have noticed that the price of blood bag has risen from N3,000 in public hospitals which before is sold at N2, 000, and N4,000 in private Hospitals in the past few days, when Government declared the total lock down across Nigeria in an efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus. On the order hand, Sickle cell relief medications in public and private Hospitals as well as medicine stores the story is different because of the highest cost of medicines and it is compulsory for us to use the medications in order live a better life because our entire patients are under terrible situation because of inadequacy of red blood cell which cause us fail sick most of the time. When I asked for the price of anti-malarial medication, the price was almost double, this is why we’re crying out and complaining to Government to tell them the kind of harsh and horrible condition and abject poverty of Sickle cell pandemic that we find ourselves, especially, we people living in rural areas. This has made us to start pointing accusing finger on Federal and State governments of promoting this Sickle cell anemia disease across Nigeria without giving them any help to the victims even with anti-malarial medicines. We are therefore calling on Government to relax this lock down or to assist us with free or low price medications that we are using every day. We hope Federal Government will come to know to our situation under this coronavirus endemic.