By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba

Determined to end the scourge of sickle cell disease in Nigeria, particularly in Delta state, wife of the state governor, Dame Edith Okowa has established another sickle cell facility in the state.

The clinic commissioned at the Ogwashi-uku general hospital, Aniocha South council area of the state, by the wife of the governor raises it to a total of 14 clinics built by the 0’5 Initiative, her pet project with which she has touched lives.

Commissioning the Clinic, Dame Okowa said that the establishment of Sickle Cell Clinics across the State is to save lives, praying that patients who would use the facility even at the point of death, would be saved.

She explained that her passion to make life better for Sickle Cell patients was borne out of her experience of the disorder, stressing that, with the inauguration of the new Clinic, her heart was filled with joy and fulfillment. “I present to the people of Aniocha South Local Government Area, the 14th Sickle Cell Clinic. It is a dream come true.”

Adding, “we thank God for giving us this vision and providing the resources to carry out our plans. I appreciate the people of Aniocha South for their immense contributions towards the actualization of this project; your financial contributions, prayers and the thought to erect this building is heartwarming. I pray that the Lord will reward you in Jesus name.”

Dame Edith Okowa while recounting the achievements of O5 Initiative in the past four years, said, “we made a promise when this Journey started, to establish a Referral Centre in Asaba, I am glad to say that the promise has been fulfilled. The Asaba Sickle Cell Centre is fully fitted with modern equipment manned by skilled and qualified personnel and has so far handled with great success, major challenges faced by Sickle Cell Sufferers”.

The First Lady further said that the 13 established Sickle Cell Clinics by O5 Initiative in Agbor, Ughelli, Oleh, Sapele, Kwale, Koko, Eku, Patani, Otu-Jeremi, Orerokpe, Issele-Uku and Umunede are fully functional and have in no small way impacted in the lives of indigent patients.

She assured that the remaining Local Government Areas will soon have theirs. “We are not resting on our oars, we look forward to establishing twelve more Sickle Cell Clinics where there is a General Hospital in the State”.

Dame Okowa urged members of the public to join hands in creating a better future for Sickle Cell patients, cautioned against stigmatization and charged parents not to discriminate any child with such condition. “Let’s join hands together for the good of society and change our world, one person at a time”, Okowa urged.

In her welcome address, the Director General, O5 Initiative, Mrs Oghenekevwe Agas, expressed thanks to God for the establishment of another Clinic, saying it is a hope for Sickle Cell patients in the area.

Resource personnel who spoke at the event; Mrs Magdalene Dike, Medical Lab Scientist, advocated earlu screening for children of Sickle Cell carriers and compulsory genotype test for intending couples, while Mrs Anthonia Obi, a Food Nutritionist, harped on balanced diet and regular intake of water for the patients.

The event also featured cultural dance and drama by Sickle Cell Warriors and testimonies by Sickle Cell Survivors; Justice Excel Timi-Tonye, Miss Blessing Edo, Mrs Gift Nkwor and Mrs Bridget Augustus who encouraged other Sickle Cell patients with the words, “Sickle Cell is not a Death Sentence”.

High points of the event were the official unveiling of the Clinic and presentation of long lasting insecticidal nets to Sickle Cell patients.

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