Last October, key stakeholders including medical & sickle cell experts, governmental and non-governmental organizations from across Africa and the World came together as a collective on one international stage to discuss the burden of sickle cell disease, its impact on African communities and proffer evidence-based solutions and recommendations to its effect.
Delegates from over 25 countries across the world gathered under one roof at the Landmark Center in Lagos, Nigeria to participate in the first African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease(ACSCD).
Building on the success of the maiden edition, the ACSCD Team, its organizer, the Dr. SickleCell – Center for Sickle Cell Disease supported by Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation, Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization shaped what has been known to be the Biggest and most impactful Sickle Cell Conference in Africa by creating a unique platform with endless opportunity to Connect, Collaborate and Impact.
“Overcoming Sickle Cell Disease: Power of the Collective Voice” was a theme that resonated strongly throughout all three days and across all programmatic elements, including in the Women Overcoming Sickle Cell(WOSC) Symposium.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has stressed the need for more 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.
Speaking in Lagos at the grand patron of the First African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease, ACSCD, Obasanjo emphasised the fact that every sickle cell sufferer has a unique story behind the pain they go through therefore, need empathy and not sympathy.
The 3-Day conference was organised by Dr. SickleCell – Center for Sickle Cell Disease in association with Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation and supported by World Health Organization, Federal Ministry of Health amongst other sickle cell foundations across Africa.
The co-chair ACSCD Congress, Dr. David Ajaere said “the burden of sickle cell disease cannot be overcome by any single organization or individual. It takes an holistic approach whereby partnerships are forged between organizations and relevant stakeholders with aligned interest and vision in a bid to overcoming sickle cell disease in Africa.”
The Director for WHO, Africa region, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti who was represented by Prof. Jean-marie Dangou, Coordinator of Non-Communicable Disease Primary Prevention and Integrated Management stressed the need for setting priorities for National, regional and global SCD prevention and control programme.
The King of Kabaka of the Buganda kingdom in Uganda who was represented at the congress by his Minister of Health, Dr. Prosperous Nankindu also threw insight on the fight against sickle cell disease in Uganda and how they have successfully made Ugandans more aware of sickle cell management by educating them on the need for genotype screening before marriage.
The Chief Executive Officer, National Marrow Donor Programme/Be The Match, Dr. Randal Mills also stated that a cure for sickle cell disease exists.
He further mentioned that access to curative bone marrow transplant requires partnership at all levels.
The founder of MMAWT Legacy initiative and First Lady of Sokoto State, Mrs Maryam Tambuwal said “Separate those who abuse drugs from those who take prescription drugs and do not stigmatize warriors by calling them drug addicts”.
President of Vicar Hope Foundation and First lady of Abia State, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu said Sickle cell disease is mainly an African problem adding that stakeholders on the African continent should lead efforts to eradicate it.
The ACSCD International Coordinator, Amb. Eddie Resphanto stated the need for a collective voice on sickle cell disease in Africa.
Also speaking, Prof. Nosa Bazuaye said that the University of Benin Teaching Hospital has since 2017, successfully carried out 9 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.
Organizations represented at the congress include National Marrow Donor Program, Novartis, Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT), RR Mechatronics, Biomediomics, Hemex Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Lagos State Blood & Transfusion Service, AMPATH Kenya, Sickle Cell 101 USA, Tanzania Sickle Cell Warriors Organization (TASIWA), Healing stripes Hospital, Terumo BCT, Bristol Scientifics, Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, Sickle Life Ghana, Sickle Strong Warrior Foundation, Association of Paediatric Surgeons of Nigeria, Federal Medical Center Ogun State, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, OAU Teaching Hospital, eHealth Africa, Sickle Cell Well Africa, Sickle Cell Hope Alive Foundation(SCHAF), StemRX Pharmaceuticals India, Pro-Health International, Sickle Cell Advocacy & Management Initiative(SAMI), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Manipal Hospital India, Omega-cares Foundation, Xcene Research, Bond Chemicals Limited, CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative, Pierre Fabre Fondation, National Hospital Abuja, Health Forever Product Limited, Patviv Health, Assene-Laborex Limited, Zutron Pharmaceuticals, Sickle Cell Well Africa Foundation, ABU Teaching Hospital, SAI Phytoceuticals Pvt Ltd, and Sickle Cell Aid Foundation amongst many others.