The wife of the Delta State Governor and Founder O5 Initiative, Dame Edith Okowa has advocated for people living with Sickle Cell during a side event at the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The event which featured an overview of O5 Initiative also showcased the progress made by the foundation.
Speaking at the Sickle Cell anaemia awareness forum with the theme “Sickle Cell Disorder, the forgotten and the neglected: Any hope for the children?” Dame Okowa stressed the need for world leaders to create an enabling environment and support those with the disorder.
She told participants to join her foundation in the battle against Sickle Cell and secure a bright future for persons already living with the disorder. “There is too much stigma related with Sickle cell disorder. Come join us in combatting sickle cell.”
Okowa stressed on the importance of counselling for the younger generations, noting that the prime message for intending couples, is to know their genotype before marriage.
Anchoring her message on “Changing Our World, One Person at a Time”, Dame Edith Okowa listed some of the successes of O5 Initiative in Delta State which not only focused on Health Care but also include, Orphanage Outreach, Clothing of the Needy and Prison Outreach.
Dr Mrs Annette Akinsete, National Director/CEO, Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, who also spoke at the global gathering, highlighted on the sufferings encountered by Sickle Cell patients and death rates posed by the disorder in Nigeria.
Nigeria currently ranks as the number One country with high mortality rates of Sickle Cell patients in the world. Of about 150,000 children born with Sickle Cell in Nigeria each year, 100,000 die before age of 5.
It will be recalled that on June 1, 2019, the O5 Initiative project of Dame Edith Okowa donated a Multi Million Naira Sickle Cell Referral Centre to the Delta State Government.
The centre which is located in the Asaba Specialist Hospital, is currently catering for Sickle Cell patients within and outside Delta State and also serves as the headquarters of other Sickle Cell Micro Clinics spread across the State.