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Prenatal screening for sickle cell anemia: awareness among health professionals and medical students at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the concept of prevention by termination.
Nigeria has the highest population of sickle cell anemia (SCA) patients in the whole world. This condition manifests with frequent episodes of aches and pains, recurrent infections, and frequent hospitalization. Prenatal screening is one of the methods of reducing the prevalence of this disease. The study aimed to determine the awareness and acceptability of prenatal screening for SCA among health professionals and students at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. It was a descriptive and cross-sectional study carried out between August and September 2006, involving 403 health professionals and students using structured questionnaires. The study revealed that 91.3% of the respondents had heard about prenatal screening for SCA, whereas 8.7% of the respondents had not. In addition, the majority of the respondents (75.3%) knew that SCA can be prevented by prenatal screening for SCA, whereas 13.7% and 11.3% were not aware or not sure, respectively. Up to 48.2% of the respondents were not aware that prenatal screening for SCA is available in Nigeria with the nurses being the least aware (χ=11.9, P=0.00). 42.1% of the respondents will not allow preventive termination of pregnancy if prenatal screening confirms SCA. For those who will not allow preventive termination, up to 79% of them decided on the basis of their religious beliefs. There is a poor level of awareness of the availability of prenatal screening services in Nigeria among health workers in Lagos, and religion is a major factor militating against its acceptability.
Anemia, Sickle Cell
Pub Type(s)Journal Article