Delta first lady gets N3.5 billion grant to fight sickle cell


The Initiative for Global Development (IGD), a U.S.-based nonprofit organisation, has announced the donation of 10 million dollars (N3.5 billion) for the management of sickle cell disease (SCD) in Delta.

Newsmen reports that the money is coming through 05 Initiative, the pet project of Mrs Edith Okowa, wife of the state Governor.

Leila Ndiaye, the Chief Executive Officer of IGD, made the announcement at a sickle cell sensitisation forum organised by 05 Initiative in New York on Thursday.

The event, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was part of the funding and partnership drive of 05 Initiative, a nongovernmental organisation.

Ndiaye said the money was meant for the digitisation of sickle cell centres established by 05 Initiative across the state to provide care for patients.

According to her, the gesture was inspired by Mrs Okowa’s commitment to the fight against the disease, which is widespread in Nigeria.

The country is said to have one of the highest incidences of the blood disorder in the world, with about 40 million carriers.

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Every year, 150,000 babies are born with SCD out of which only 50,000 survive beyond age five, according to Dr Annette Akinsete, Director of the Sickle Foundation of Nigeria.

There are currently 12 sickle cell centres run by 05 Initiative in Delta, providing treatment and counseling to patients, according to Okowa.

The governor’s wife told guests at the occasion that her campaign against SCD was motivated by a first-hand experience with the disease.

“You may be wondering why I am interested in sickle cell anemia and not cancer, heart condition, and so on.

“I had a first hand experience of sickle cell anemia. I had twins as my first issue and I lost one of them due to sickle cell anemia at age one year five months and since then it has been a journey.

“I told myself since I have gone through this, no woman should do the same.

“That is why I have embarked on educating people, especially couples, to know their genotypes before getting married,” she said.

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She said 05 Initiative recently built and donated a multimillion naira Sickle Cell Referral Centre to the state as part of her humanitarian activities.

According to her, the centre located in Asaba, is the second in Nigeria and would serve as the headquarters of the other Sickle Cell Micro Clinics in the state.

In goodwill messages, the First Ladies of Ekiti and Edo, Mrs Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi and Betsy Bene Obaseki, respectively, lauded the efforts of their Delta counterpart.

They said there was need to extend the campaign to the national stage, pledging to use the platform of the Governors’ Wives Association to do that.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Ms Pauline Tallen, also commended Mrs Okowa for the Initiative, saying the ministry would “join hands with her to do more” within and beyond Delta.

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