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Obasanjo, others seek support for people living with sickle cell disease

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has reiterated the need for collaborative efforts to foster better education and awareness about sickle cell disease just as he stated that people living with sickle cell need empathy not sympathy.

Obasanjo while speaking at First African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease (ACSCD) in Lagos emphasised the fact that every sickle cell sufferer has a unique story behind the pain they go through and therefore need empathy and not sympathy.

According to him, sickle cell disease is mainly an African problem adding that stakeholders on the African continent should lead efforts to eradicate the disease, as individual efforts are not enough to tackle the menace but collaboration across borders. The three-day conference, organised by Dr. Sickle Cell – Centre for Sickle Cell Disease in association with Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation and supported by World Health Organisation, Federal Ministry of Health amongst other sickle cell foundations across Africa, also had in attendance delegates from Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Namibia, India, Netherland, Egypt, Belgium, Canada, United State and United Kingdom.

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The co-chair ACSCD Congress, Dr. David Ajaere, in his address, noted that the burden of sickle cell disease (SCD) can not be overcome by any single organization or individual as it takes holistic approach wherein partnerships are forged between organizations and relevant stakeholders with aligned interest and vision He stressed the need to set priorities for national, regional and global SCD prevention and control programme, disclosing plans to create an international platform for people living with the disease.

Uganda Minister of Health, Dr. Prosperous Nankindu, also shared insight on the fight against sickle cell disease in Uganda and how they have successfully made Ugandans more aware of sickle cell management by popularising the need for genotype screening before marriage. He noted that although there is cure for sickle cell disease but providing access to curative bone marrow transplant requires partnership at all levels.

Also speaking at the congress, Prof. Nosa Bazuaye, said that the University of Benin Teaching Hospital has since 2017 successfully carried out nine bone marrow transplants on persons with SCD despite obstacles and limited resources.

He added that there is hope on the future of sickle cell research in Africa if other countries could ensure they make use of the power of the collective voice.


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