In a bid to provide lasting, accessible and affordable cure to people living with sickle cell disease, the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, is setting up a sickle cell bone marrow transplant centre in the country.

The Founder and Chairman of Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria, Professor Olu Akinoju, stated this weekend in Lagos during the awareness walk organised by Dowen College as part of the school’s 20th anniversary celebration. The exercise tagged: Walk for Love’, was supported by Fidelity Bank Plc and other corporate organisations.

Akinoju said the school was helping them through the walk, to raise funds for the building of the centre at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). He said the foundation has been partnering with the college in search of cure for the disease, noting that, two of their students who had sickle cell anemia were cured in Rome where the transplant centre exists.

We know you can cure sickle cell through transplantation of bone marrow provided the patient has somebody who is compatible and can accept the bone marrow without problem. And we did 50 people, we send them to Rome – we are learning from Rome, and two of their students who had sickle cell went to Rome and were cured,” Akinoju said.

Meanwhile, Akinoju appealed to the federal government to establish a Sickle Cell Act which would, according to him, cover such issues as ‘New Borne Screening’ to ascertain immediately after birth whether one has sickle cell anemia.

Also speaking, Principal, Dowen College, Mrs Olawunmi Togonu-Bickersteth, said: “We’re doing it as part of our 20th anniversary celebration. We have taken this as a project for the anniversary and the focus is to work with the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria in the cure of sickle cell anemia. The foundation is planning to establish a Sickle Cell Bone Marrow transplant Centre in Nigeria which would cater for people living with sickle cell anemia – to provide the cure for them, bringing the treatment nearer to the doorsteps of Nigerians – making it more affordable and accessible to many more people.

Peter Uzoho