According to recommendations, electronic media should actively engage in efforts to address the prevention and management of sickle cell disease.
The mass media must elevate its role in raising awareness of and educating the public on clinical and social issues related to sickle cell disease, according to a recent article on the state of the sickle cell in Nigeria.
The article, authored by mass communication experts at Babcock University, Nigeria, argued that previous literature has given little serious attention to the role of mass media—defined as television, radio, film, movies, etc.—in the treatment and management of sickle cell disease.
“It is very necessary that the masses need to be properly educated on the risk factors of the sickle cell disease before any meaningful achievement towards the reduction of the burden of the disease can be made,” they wrote.
They believed that few individuals in Nigeria truly understand the risk factors of the disease as a result of religion, rural localities, tradition, cultural practices, and ignorance, among other reasons.
Further, they defined risk factors of sickle cell disease as behaviors, characteristics, or conditions that increase the chances and likelihood of inheriting or worsening the disease condition in the individual.
Thus, they recommended the various sectors of mass media should organize campaigns and intervention efforts that are aimed at improving health outcomes.
For example, this may include informing intending and sexually active couples of the importance of a positive genotype compatibility.
Furthermore, the media can work to deepen its education platform by promoting health programs and providing details of available treatments and best management practices to the public. There should especially be a focus on encouraging early diagnosis.
The authors also noted very few patients understand the futility of drug therapy without psychological support. Thus, the media can serve as a medium whereby psychological support is achieved—additionally, they can promote drug therapy with psychological support.
Many individuals in Nigeria living with sickle cell disease cannot afford expensive therapies such as bone marrow transplant. Therefore, media houses and stations can sponsor an advocacy or media campaign program that can help government and international bodies subsidize the cost of such treatments for those in financially precarious situations.
And finally, the authors stressed that media should work more closely with doctors in bringing these campaigns and advocacy groups to fruition.
“The mass media to be effective in the control of the proliferation, and improvement of the psychology and social lifestyle of SCD in the Nigerian society the campaign and intervention programs should be organized and backed up with serious implementation as it was done to fight diseases like HIV/AID, polio, malaria and even the current COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria,” they wrote.
According to the authors, the lack of public awareness and education is the greatest challenge in addressing the issues related to sickle cell disease. They believed there has been little attention paid by media, government, and the general public to conditions and issues related to sickle cell disease—and thus, there is an urgency to change that.
“The incidence, distribution and challenges associated with the control of the disease have given it a global concern,” they wrote.
The article, “The Potential Impact of Mass Media Education in the Psycho-Social Life and Epidemiology of Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria,” was published online in Global Journal of Health Science.