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The need for demystification of cultural views of Sickle Cell

Are you one of the many people who wrongly believe that incurable diseases like Sickle Cell Disease and even disabilities come from curses or witchcraft because their parents, community, native doctor or even some “pastor” said so? I write this educative post as a demystification of cultural views on Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

SCD has no cure for most people. It is most common among people of African descent.

How Fatal is SCD?

SCD is so fatal it can cause life-threatening complications. They include a stroke, acute chest syndrome from a lung infection, fever, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.

SCD has treatments that can relieve pain and help prevent issues associated with the disease.

Cultural Views of SCD

Some cultures think SCD is punishment from the gods.

In the Middle East, India, Africa, South and North America and other places, cultural beliefs about SCD exist. However, these beliefs are relatively not widespread in the western world, thanks to more awareness and advanced treatment.

Sadly, many people wrongfully believe that SCD is a mysterious illness sent by the gods or some evil person. They have various primitive and cultural concepts about the condition.

The Yoruba in Nigeria for example call it “Abiku” which is translated as “Born to Die”. And millions of them like elsewhere in Africa and other countries actually believe it’s a curse from the gods. The truth and the fact are, SCD is a hereditary condition that is not mysterious but medical. The more people are fully aware of this, the more SCD is understood and treated.

Ritual “Solutions” to Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

In this day and age, we don’t have to continue to believe in ritual treatments that our ancestors passed down from generation to generation. They did so because they lacked advanced hospitals and medical information on most illnesses. Not everything is spiritual.

It’s unhealthy and misleading to attribute SCD (a genetic condition) to a mysterious evil source such as A or B “has used evil powers, sorcery, or witchcraft against my child or us the parents.”

If your child is born with SCD, know that it’s because both parents have sickle cell disease or sickle trait. Taking a sickle cell trait test is the best way couples can know that they both have the sickle cell trait and avoid having a child together.

Seek treatment via a healthcare provider and do only what doctors and experienced SCD patients such as Suzzy Muke advise you do as a -based treatment for the condition. Please, remember to always speak to your healthcare provider about any treatment you want to try.  

>After putting in much effort in terms of finance, love, care, and running around during pain episodes, some families may be tempted to turn to rituals for curing SCD which is impossible.

Need for Extensive Community Education and Persecution of Unyielding Parents

As someone living with SCD and without a major pain crisis for years, I write to sensitize families, other SCD patients, all stakeholders, human rights activists and government arms to educate people and enact laws abolishing SCD-related rituals. If implemented, the action will save lots of SCD patients (children and adults) who are forced to succumb to rituals or spiritual cleansing for SCD and other incurable diseases.  



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