The Vice Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in 2019 elections, Mr Peter Obi, has commemorated the World Sickle Cell Day with the Association of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder, wherein he encouraged them not to despair in life due to their health condition, but keep pushing through life with joy and enthusiasm.
Obi who joined the Association to mark the Day at Madonna Catholic Church, Agulu, with a Holy Mass in honour of the victims of the sickle cell disorder, explained that more efforts need to be made in creating awareness of the scourge of sickle cell disorder so as to stamp it out of society. He noted that the scourge is an avoidable pain, which if intending couples are well informed and guided, would be forestalled.
Mourning the dead victims, Obi mentioned to the Association that having a Sickle Cell Disorder is not a death sentence, if carefully managed. He therefore introduced them to a pain management professional, the Founder of Las Vegas Pain Institute and Gubernatorial Candidate in Anambra State, Dr Godwin Maduka, who promised to render his assistance when needed.
In her speech, the National Coordinator, Association of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder, Aisha Edwards, explained that this year’s International Sickle Cell Day meant a lot to them, as it afforded them the opportunity to mourn their members who had fallen under the weight of the painful disorder. Aisha, stated that they decided to organize the funeral mass because most of them were not given beffiting burials at death, due to the stigma attached to the disorder.
She further called on everyone to join in waging war against the Sickle Cell Disorder. In her words “It is estimated that over 300,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease in Africa every year, of which Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo have the most prevalent cases, with high mortality rate between birth and their fifth birthday. In this campaign to eradicate sickle cell disease in Anambra State and Nigeria at large, our association is desirous to join hands with willing partners in upholding ‘ZERO TOLERANCE,’ with intending couples facing genotype incompatibilities. Every measure should be employed to discourage such couples from going ahead with their marriage plans. The church and town union organizations should not shift ground when screening couples for genotype compatibility, either for their Christian or traditional marriage ceremony”.
She further expressed her appreciation to the Catholic Dioceses of Awka and Nnewi, and Aguata Diocese, Anglican Communion, for the massive support the Association has received from them, while thanking Mr Peter Obi for his fatherly love and care. She described Peter Obi’s presence in their midst as a noble gesture which they will always appreciate.
“In his usual way, Obi honoured our invitation without much political fanfare. He has been like a father to us, even when he was the Governor of Anambra state. His financial support to us today, with that of Dr Godwin Maduka, will help us pay the school fees of at least 30 of our members in school. That means a lot to us”, Aisha stated.
Extending her gratitude to the Obi’s Former Chief of Staff and Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Prof Stella Chinyere Okunna, Aisha said “Okunna is a mother that has never failed us, always ready to dry our tears. She has remained dedicated and devoted to our cause”.
The International Sickle Cell Day is celebrated on June 19 every year.