‘Preventing Molecular, Genetic Illnesses Via Early Diagnosis’

Chioma Umeha

Deadly molecular and genetic diseases could be prevented if people do frequent visit labs for tests instead of waiting for symptomatic evidences of the ailments, according to studies.
Some of the diseases are, Hepatitis B and C, ovarian cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, Human Papiloma Virus, breast cancer, cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, Down syndrome, Patau syndrome, Edwards syndrome and Sickle Cell Anaemia.
With over 20 million Nigerians are currently suffering needlessly from Hepatitis B while 10 million of them are estimated to have Hepatitis C, the country contributes two per cent to the global burden of Hepatitis, a scientific journal has shown.
This is just as researchers say that most of the current population of hepatitis cases in Nigeria will graduate to liver sclerosis, liver cancer or any of the liver diseases as Hepatitis is the leading cause of liver disease.
Regrettably, studies reveal that both variants of Hepatitis do not manifest any signs or symptoms until after 20 years of carrying the disease.
Confirming this, Dr Abasi Ene- Obong, the Founder and CEO of Stack Diagnosis, says, “So, people might actually be infected with Hepatitis but they might not know until 20 years down the line when they develop liver sclerosis or liver cancer or liver disease.”
Speaking during the flag-off of the first Nigerian molecular diagnostics and online personalised test ordering portal tagged, DiagnoseMe Africa in Lagos, Dr Ene-Obong laments that Nigeria is lagging behind in management of molecular and genetic diseases.
He explains that while liver transplant is a common medical exercise in most countries of the world and Nigeria lagging behind in the practice.
Late diagnosis of hepatitis coupled with poor medical facility for liver transplant exponentially double the cases of liver failure and death in the Nigeria, though hepatitis remains a preventable disease, he adds.
Bemoaning the high incidence of Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) in Nigeria, Dr. Ene-Obong notes that the deadly disease is preventable.
He also clarifies that HPV leads to cervical cancer, which is among the top three deadly cancers in the country though not in all cases.
If women between 20 and 65 years old undergo routine tests for HPV every three years, Ene- Obong discloses that they will completely eliminate chances of contracting the virus and by extension coming down with cervical cancer.
But he explains, “In Nigeria, one of the reasons we have issues of people dying of cancer is simply because we do not detect these diseases early.
“And because we cannot detect the diseases early we cannot take the steps to do something about them. This is why our people die of so many preventable diseases,” he laments.
On international practices in precision medicine, Dr Nchiewe Ani, a medical advisor says that the “hindsight of the genetic makeup of a patient can help to eliminate 50/50 errors in patient management, ultimately ensures high success rate in cases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, autoimmune and hormonal diseases.
“It also helps to eliminate issues of drug resistance especially with oncology drugs.
“It is as simple as analysing your saliva and we can tell you what cancer your gene carries or does not carry.”
According to Ene-Obong, the over 300 specialist tests including hereditary cancers, non-invasive prenatal test, paternity, gene mutation detection, hepatitis B and C viral load, water, will not only help doctors and patients nip preventable diseases in the bud, but also overcome the structural challenges in the country’s health sector.


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