The Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday pledged to support the war against Sickle Cell disorder in the country.
She Buhari made the promise at the World Sickle Cell Awareness Day Campaign launch jointly organised by Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation (OOF) and the Wife of the President in Abuja.
Mrs Buhari is also the Patron of the World Sickle Cell Awareness Day Campaign which is being organised as part of the 2015 World Sickle Cell day.
She expressed her commitment towards creating awareness on the treatment and management of the disease.
Mrs Buhari, who recalled her personal experience with the disease which lasted for many years, described it as “traumatic”.
“As I stand before you now, the memory of the agony which my late step daughter, Zulaihat Buhari, went through is something that will live with me and our entire family for the rest of our lives.
“I watched my daughter go through severe pains in almost every part of her body; often times, I became helpless and wished that I could also share the pain with her at those moments,’’ she said.
However, Mrs Buhari expressed delight that efforts of medical professionals who are initiating innovative strategies towards improving the standards of health of persons living with sickle cell disease are yielding commendable results.
She cited the establishment of the renowned sickle cell centre in Idiaraba, Lagos state, as one of the commendable examples.
She also lauded other efforts including numerous donations by well meaning individuals and corporate organisations.
Mrs Buhari solicited for more action and assistance to be extended to other parts of the country.
She called for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence to meet up with those in advanced countries to be located in Borno and Yobe states.
According to her, studies show that the two states have the largest number of sickle cell trait with prevalence of 27.9 percent and 32.6 per cent, respectively.
“The choice of any of these states would be strategic to cater for those in the Northern part of the country,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Mrs Buhari as saying.
The wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osibanjo, read Mrs Buhari’s speech at the occasion.
Earlier, Prof. Olu Akinyanju, Founder, Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria, said the event provides the opportunity to remind leaders to help influence the impact of the disease on the carriers and help sustain the fight.
He explained that the foundation has so far addressed issues such as Genetic Counselling, Pre-natal diagnosis of the disease and stroke risk detection and prevention, among others.
Akinyanju said also that Nigeria was currently carrying out Bone Marrow (Stem Cell) Transplant for the disease.
Highlight of the event was personal testimonies shared by some Nigerians who are living with the disease.
Those who spoke included Mr Ade Adebisi, a Rugby professional player based in the UK; Miss Samira Sanusi, an Author; and a graduate, Ms Omolola Ogunrinade.