Aisha Buhari, wife of Nigeria’s president, says the sickle-cell experience of one of her step daughters will live with her and members of her family for the rest of their lives.
She described the disorder as traumatic, vowing to contribute towards ridding it in the country.
Aisha made the promise at the World Sickle Cell Awareness Day campaign organised by Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation (OOF) in Abuja on Wednesday.
She expressed commitment towards creating awareness on the treatment and management of the disease.
“As I stand before you now, the memory of the agony which my late step daughter, Zulaihat Buhari, went through is something that will live with me and our entire family for the rest of our lives,” she said.
“I watched my daughter go through severe pains in almost every part of her body; often times, I became helpless and wished that I could also share the pain with her at those moments.”
She expressed delight that efforts of medical professionals initiating innovative strategies towards improving the standards of health of persons living with sickle cell disease are yielding commendable results.
Aisha cited the establishment of the renowned sickle cell centre in Idiaraba, Lagos state, as one of the commendable examples.
She also lauded other efforts, including numerous donations by well-meaning individuals and corporate organisations, and solicited for more action and assistance in extending the initiative to other parts of the country.
She called for the establishment of sickle cell centres in Borno and Yobe states, noting studies show that the two states have the largest number of traits of the disorder with prevalence of 27.9 percent and 32.6 per cent, respectively.
“The choice of any of these states would be strategic to cater for those in the northern part of the country,” she said.
Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the vice-president, read Aisha’s speech at the occasion.
Earlier, Olu Akinyanju, founder, Sickle Cell Foundation of Nigeria, said the event provides the opportunity to remind leaders to help reduce the impact of the disease on carriers and help sustain the fight.
He explained that the foundation has so far addressed issues such as genetic counselling, pre-natal diagnosis of the disease and stroke risk detection and prevention.
Akinyanju said also that Nigeria was currently carrying out bone marrow (Stem Cell) transplant for the disease. Highlight of the event was personal testimonies shared by some Nigerians who are living with the disease.
Those who spoke included Ade Adebisi, a Rugby professional player based in the UK; Samira Sanusi, an author; and Omolola Ogunrinade.
Zulikat, Buhari’s first daughter, died after delivering a baby in November 2012. She was 40 years old.
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