Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA:
Wife of Delta state governor and founder of the 05 Initiative, Dame Edith Okowa has stressed on the need to fight against the stigmatization and misconceptions surrounding the sickle cell disorder, saying that “the sickle cell hereditary disorder is not a death sentence.”
She stated this on Thursday, March 02, 2017 during the official commissioning of the Sickle Cell Clinic at the Koko Central Hospital in Warri North local government area of Delta state.
She therefore urged Nigerians, especially Deltans at home and in the Diaspora, including non governmental organizations and corporate bodies to lend a helping hand to anaemic patients through partnership with the 05 Initiative.
Dame Okowa disclosed that it is a rare privilege to be saddled with the responsibility of giving hope to the hopeless in the society.
She further said the establishment of sickle cell clinics is in line with the SMART agenda of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration to support and promote good health for all Deltans as well as for the effective management of occasional distress associated with sickle cell hereditary disorder.
She emphasised that her pet project, the 05 Initiative is passionate about establishing sickle cell clinics across the state with a modern referral clinic at the state capital since “the ratio of sicle cell clinics to the number of patients has been on the high side.”
She however encouraged patients to always visit the established clinics for regular genetic counseling, adding the functional clinics are presently in Agbor, Ughelli, Oleh, Sapele, Kwale, Eku, Patani and Koko.
In a hope laden speech, Dame Okowa said, “My survival and success children, do not give up, each time I look at you, I see a bright future. Lean to live your pain through a smile and have a positive mind set. I pray that this facility will alleviate your stress as you visit your genetic counselors regularly. Always bear in mind that you are not a misfit but heroes to be celebrated.”
Earlier in her opening address, the co-ordinator of 05 Initiative, Mrs. Oghenekevwe Agas said the 05 Initiative team was not established for jamborees but for the effective sensitization of the people at the grassroots on the need to screen both the young and old for their genotype status.
She appealed for more support to the 05 Initiative to enable them purchase more basic clinical equipment to sustain the determination to establish Sickle Cell clinics at Central Hospitals in the 25 local government areas of the state, for easier access by members of the public.
In a goodwill message, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge represented by the Permanent Secretary, Delta state Ministry of Health, Dr. Mrs. Mimi Oseji described the efforts of Dame Okowa in providing world class medical equipment for sickle cell clinics as the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Speaking separately on the “Importance of genotype, nutrition in management of sickle cell and investigation, Dr. Samson J. Mukoro, Dr. Idjerhe Prince and Mrs. Evelyn Uyoyo respectively highlighted on the need for intending couples to seek medical screening in ascertaining partners’ genotype statuses before marriage, which according to them would be nipping the prevalence of “genetic anaemic disorder” in the bud.
In an exclusive interview with Blank NEWS Online, the Chairman of Warri North local government, Hon. (Chief) Francis Maku-Eyituoyor said, “We are privileged that this Clinic is sited here to greatly assist in the early determination, management or control of Sickle Cell anaemia.”
He expressed profound appreciation to Her Excellency, Dame Edith Okowa for counting the people of Warri North worthy of benefitting from her renowned “05 Initiative” pet project, adding that “The Clinic is a real gem to us. It will save and better the lives of our people as we put it to judicious use.”
The establishment of the Sickle Cell clinic in Koko, may have halted the continued stress faced by Mrs. Mary, a 35 years old anaemic mother of three, who usually travels several kilometres to Sapele local government area for medical check-up. She thanked Dame Okowa for bringing sucour to her and many others who had given up to fate.
In addition to the colourful cultural display of both Itsekiri and Ijaw dancers, highpoint of the ceremony was the presentation of a “special souvenir” in appreciation to the First Lady, Dame Edith Okowa on behalf of her husband and Governor of Delta sate, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa.
The Olu of Warri, His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli was represented by Chief Solomon Areyinka, Chairman of Delta State Rural Development Agency (RDA). Other dignitaries at the event were Hon. Michael Diden (Ejele); Chief Victor Nana, the Olare-Aja of Koko; Pa E. K. Gbaragada; Hon. Chief Otimeyin Adam, first executive chairman of Warri North; Hon. Irene Imila, former member representing Warri North at the Delta House of Assembly; Rev. (Mrs) Omatsola Williams, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development and Joel Bisina, former commissioner in the state among many others.
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Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka