By Adeyemi Adeleye
The CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative on Saturday urged the Federal Government not to ignore people with sickle cell aneamia in its policies and and programmes.
The Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) made this appeal during an empowerment programme for sickle cell patients in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NGO carried out the empowerment at its Project Empower A Warrior 2.0, titled: “Adapt and Thrive : Empowering Resilience in the New Economy”.
Miss Timi Edwin, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CrimsonBow, however, urged the patients not to give up on life because of the present economic realities.
Edwin, who is also a patient, said that government across levels needed to pay attention to people living with sickle cell in terms of affordable healthcare and empowerments.
“We have been talking to the government several times and telling them about healthcare for people living with sickle cell.
“We also like to engage this government to say that, please, don’t ignore people living with sickle cell in policies, projects and entrepreneurship,” she said.
Speaking on the empowerment programme, Edwin said that the NGO provided a business clinic on how to run businesses, and empowerment packages for about 200 patients to alleviate their sufferings.
She said that the initiative had brought different business experts together to train and inspire the sickle cell patients on how to navigate the current economic situation and to stay healthy and alive.
“We are giving three different cash categories and several mini grants. The first cost category is N250,000, the second category is N150,000 and the third category is N100,000, to support businesses of sickle cell warriors.
“And, we also know that there are several people who are petty traders, so we provide micro grants of the sum of N25,000 each to put into their businesses,” she said.
Edwin, who noted that sickle cell comes with so many challenges, advocated free medical services and drugs for patients through the national or state health insurance schemes.
“We cannot give everyone grants, but we will keep trying to expand the net to help the patients. We will keep thinking on what more to do and how to do it better,” she said.
Dr Olufunto Kalejaiye, a Consultant Physician and Hematologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, who noted that though there had been a lot of awareness on sickle cell by different groups, said that the nation still had a long way to go in the management of the disorder.
Kalejaiye, who emphasised the need for early diagnosis for continuous management of the sickle cell disorder, said that this would prevent many complications that could occur.
According to her, there is also the need for parents and community participation in the management of sickle cell aneamia.
“We must not isolate these children. We must be able to seek for care early. We must be aware of the complications of the disorder and strategise on how to go about them.
“Basically, it is very important that many of the patients be attached to centres where they have specialists to manage the disorder,” she added.
The medical practitioner said that it was also important for intending couples to know their genotype so as to make informed decision before marriage.
Kalejaiye joined the initiative to call on governments to include sickle cell treatment in various health insurance scheme to help the patients paying out of pockets.
Mrs Debisi Alokolaro,. a Marketing Expert, stressed the need for government and employers of labour to ensure diversity and inclusion of sickle cell patients in empowerment opportunities.
“We should also give opportunities to people living with disabilities, especially sickle cell warriors, to grow and to thrive. Sickle cell warriors I have met are very resilient and tenacious and very strong set of people,” Alokolaro said.
Also speaking, Mrs Adebola Adedeji, the Managing Director, Ecobank Nominees Ltd. (A member of Ecobank Group ), emphasised the need for more support from government, corporate organisations, individuals and the immediate community for the patients to aid their survival.
“So, we need private partners to come on board. Government can also do some policy changes that can really make life better for sickle cell warriors,” Adedeji, also a patient, said.
Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs Folashade Shinkaiye, who commended sponsors and board members, emphasised the need o empower, inspire, and uplift those in need, especially people living with sickle cell anemia.
“As we embark on this transformative journey together, let us celebrate the power of collaboration, the strength of unity, and the promise of positive change,” Shinkaiye.
The event involved a panel discussion with several stakeholders creating awareness about sickle cell and how to help the patients to stay alive in the current nation’s economy. (NAN)
Edited by Folasade Adeniran