By Lorraine Anyango .
The Culmination of the sickle cell awareness month was marked by a remarkable partnership in Kisumu among stakeholders, giving hope and commitment towards raising awareness on a condition that affects not just individuals but communities.
The collaboration served as a testament to the power of unity and shared purpose. It highlighted the dedication of all stakeholders to improve the lives of individuals and families living with sickle cell disease, as well as their commitment to fostering awareness, education, and access to care within our community.
Under the Umbrella of Sickle Cell Zero, organizations including Kisumu County, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH), Getrudes, Avenue, Fortis and Agha Kan Hospitals, Children Sickle Cell Foundation, Kenya Red Cross, Kenya Medical Training Institute (KMTC), Regional blood bank, Terumo, Soroptimist International Maseno Club, Peperusha Binti, Birth Mark, Tumaini Sickle cell support group, Sickle cell federation of Kenya and West Keny Sickle Cell support group stood in solidarity raising awareness on sickle cell the entire month.
Throughout this Sickle Cell Awareness Month, Sickle Zero carried out a series of events and initiatives that exemplify the strength of the partnership. From educational workshops, blood drive awareness campaigns, and support for affected families, the joint efforts make a significant impact
The Grand celebration had calls for investment in primary care specifically prevention and awareness creation of the blood disorder.
Many interventions on sickle cell disease have been majorly on treatment, new drug development and trials, increasing access to drugs by subsidizing the prices, and born marrow transplant among others, however very little has been done towards the prevention of the disease.
Some of the interventions in the primary care of sickle cell would involve compulsory couple testing before marriage, newborn screening, and awareness creation on how exactly one gets to be a Sickler or acquire the gene.
“We should join hands in unity dedicating ourselves to advocating for improved healthcare working towards every individual living with this condition living a life full of hope, strength, and opportunity.” Dr. Greggory Ganda, The County Executive Committee Member, Medical Services, Public Health, and Sanitation who was the Chief Guest during the culmination of the awareness month said.
“As we move forward, let’s remember that awareness knows no boundaries. Sickle cell disease affects people regardless of their age, gender, or background. Our partnership must be inclusive and far-reaching, ensuring that no one in Kisumu County remains unaware of this condition or without access to the care and support they deserve.” Celina Olwanda Ogwelo, the CEO of Sickle Cell Foundation said in a speech read on her belief by Mr . Kelvin Martin.
During the ceremony, warriors relived their challenging times as some though qualified have been losing their job opportunities as they often fell ill.
The caregivers requested for drugs to be availed at the sub-county level to increase access, while KEMRI announced the trial of a new drug in the management of wounds and sores that warriors sometimes get. JOOTRH announced the availability of Hydroxyurea at their Pharmacy currently selling at only Ksh 20.
Those in attendance were sensitized on the importance of warriors having insurance “Due to the number of times warriors get crisis and the huge hospital bills accruing for the number of days spent in hospital, it will be a relief to have insurance cover,” Dr. Phanice Ajore Lead County Health Insurance coordinator advised.
The participants were reminded not to forget that awareness is just the beginning. Sickle cell disease is a lifelong condition that requires ongoing care and support. The partnership also is working towards enhancing the quality of life for warriors, hence advocating for improved access to healthcare, promoting research and innovation, and providing emotional and social support to those affected is continuous.
On the side, several medical services were offered by the hospitals present, including dental check-up deworming, Vitamin A supplementation, random blood sugar testing, blood pressure check, BMI measurements, and blood and platelet donation opportunities were offered to those in attendance.
The culmination of the day was a demonstration of apheresis by TERUMO and the Regional Blood Bank. Awareness was created on the availability of machines in Kisumu for one to donate platelets.