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Sickle Cell: NGO provides free medical tests, drugs for 700 children

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The CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative, a faith-based Non-Governmental Organisation, creating support for sickle cell patients, on Saturday sponsored free medical tests and screening for about 700 school children in Agege Local Government of Lagos State.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Miss Timi Edwin, said this at the “Project Keep A Warrior Warm 9.0” organised by the initiative in Agege and environs as part of efforts to address the challenges of sickle cell in the society.

“This is a medical outreach and Christmas party for the children in Agege Local Government.

“This is the 23rd local government area that we are coming to. We are here today to make these children have a lot of fun while also using the medium to teach them the importance of knowing their genotype.

“We are here to also let the children know how to take care of themselves, especially those with sickle cell, while also inviting them to our programmes.

“For the medical tests today, no fewer than 700 children benefitted from our free genotype, eye and dental tests while patients also got free drugs,” she said.

According to her, the initiative has been taking such advocacy from one local government to another in Lagos State and other neighbouring states to stem the spread of sickle cell diseases.

Edwin said that the participants were also given food items, clothes, beverages, toiletries and other palliatives as well as medications for patients.

“We run clinic every month where we provide medications to sickle cell patients. Here today, many patients were also provided with their medications,” she said.

She said that the Primary Health Board also collaborated with the initiative in bringing Polio and COVID-19 vaccines as support to the programme.

Edwin stressed the need for the Federal Government to implement newborn genotype screening policy and ensure adequate funding and research to mitigate spread of sickle cell.

She said that the NGO invited school children to the party in order to reach out to them.

She commended all the sponsors and called on the government, corporate organisations and well-meaning Nigerians to support the fight against sickle cell.

According to her, a lot of patients have died while many are still dying because of wrong or error in diagnosis of genotype, hence the need for government to be stricter in regulating spread of sickle cell.

“There is a lot more to do to stop bringing into the world children with sickle cell to mitigate pains and agonies of patients. Sickle cell is our plague, we need to cure it,” she added.

Also speaking, the Project Director, Mrs Christiana Bkare, noted that more children benefitted than they planned for.

Bakare said that the event was part of the catch-them-young efforts of the initiative.

She urged parents not to hide their sickle cell children as the disease was not a death sentence.

In her welcome address, the Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, said that she identified with the project meant “to educate people on Sickle Cell prevention and management in lower cadres of society”.

Mrs Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by Mrs Abimbola Odunmbaku, the Wife of the Chairman, Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA), described the gesture as laudable.

She said: “It is commendable that this sort of project is initiated, while it is more gratifying that it has been sustained from the first phase to the ninth phase that we are all gathered to celebrate today.

“I am particularly thrilled with the free genotype tests, eye tests, dental check-ups and other blood tests for women and children as part of efforts to ensure that residents are supported to be healthy and armed with the required knowledge to embrace healthier life choices.’’

Mrs Sanwo-Olu recalled that earlier in 2022, the CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative organised a roundtable advocacy meeting aimed at changing individual behaviours, societal norms, and policies regarding sickle cell prevention.

“Without any iota of doubt, this project will help a great deal to reduce the number of people affected by the disease in the future.

“To ward off the threat of the disease, I have always emphasised the need for awareness. As a matter of fact, awareness is key in helping to nip it in the bud.

“Therefore, all critical stakeholders must continue to play up and scale up advocacy to ensure that a larger percentage of the people is adequately armed with the required information to prevent it,” she said.

Mrs Sanwo-Olu said that the Lagos State Government was committed to ramping up all branches of healthcare delivery including sickle cell diseases in line with the THEMES Agenda of the administration of Gov. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu.

Mrs Adenike Adefowora, a beneficiary who came to receive medication for her six-year-old sickle cell daughter, Daniella, applauded the CrimsonBow Initiative for being there for patients.

Master Fawaz Yakubu, a 17-year-old SSS2 Student, who benefited from free genotype test, also commended the initiative for providing the avenue for such atest.

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