The world, as it does every June 19, today pauses to mark the 2020 World Sickle Cell Day, with the aim of shining light on the sickle cell disorder.
In this regard, wife of the Delta State Governor and Founder, O5 Initiative, Dame Edith Okowa in her message of hope to the warriors said, “Sickle Cell Disorder is not a death sentence; God still has a valid plan for your life and you should not give up”.
Dame Okowa also called on every well-meaning member of the society to shun all form of discrimination against sickle cell patients and rather lend a helping hand in seeing that the sufferings of the carriers are alleviated.
In her words, “Do not be the reason any of these ones is discouraged, give hope and love to them, make them see a reason to live life to the fullest even in spite of the pains they go through.
“If we are able to sow love into the lives of these ones just as God has loved us unconditionally, then we would all be keying into the vision of the O5 Initiative of ‘changing our world, one person at a time”, she said.
Dame Okowa while addressing journalists in her office at the Government House, Asaba explained the reason for her continuous campaign on genotype awareness and call for positive action regarding Sickle Cell warriors.
“I have known the pains of caring for a carrier as a parent. I also know the unexplainable pain the children have to go through almost on a daily basis for no fault of theirs and I do not wish to see any parent or child to go through the same pain.
“This is why I continually advise intending couples to be aware of their genotype status before walking down the aisle because no child deserves the pains of sickle cell anemia”, she explained.
Dame Okowa, in furtherance of her crusade, through her pet project, the O5 Initiative has in less than four years, established 13 sickle cell clinics across hospitals in the state with a referral centre in the Asaba Specialist Hospital.
She established that as much as the grace is given, the goal of her Initiative was to have sickle cell clinics in all the 25 local government areas of Delta State and she promised to work assiduously in that regard.
Earlier in the day, the First Lady had played host to a number of resident doctors on an enlightenment programme on significant issues regarding sickle cell disorder.
In the light of the prevailing covid19 pandemic, the medical practitioners noted that sickle cell patients could be more susceptible to the virus than others.
According to Dr. Kennedy Emeagui, a consultant on orthopedic surgery, at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, “Patients of Sickle Cell Disorder are more susceptible to the Coronavirus because their immune systems have been compromised, making it quite difficult for them to resist diseases.
In the same vein, a consultant pediatrician, Dr. Hyginus Okpara pointed out that a major challenge currently being faced by sickle cell patients has to do with their possible inability to get blood transfusions as at when due.
“Because of the general health situation we are currently facing, blood donors have become scarcer and this is a major challenge to the sickle cell patients who thus may not be able to access blood when they need it”, he pointed out.
Dr. Uche Okwe, a Public Health Physician encouraged the patients to observe the general rules of regular hand washing, social distancing, use of face masks, and regular use of hand sanitizers to ensure that they are not infected.
Dr. Charles Origbo who is a consultant hematologist, noted that while managing patients, health personnel should pay attention to the blood level of patients to check for possible sudden drop in blood level, which he said could pose a serious challenge.