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By Augustus Bill

It was the euphoria of a homecoming for Aisha Edward, the National Coordinator of Asscociation of Persons Living with Sickle Cell Disorder, as she visited her state of Origin for “Genotype Before Yes”, a sickle cell advocacy campaign organized by Jennifer Okorie Foundation in line with objectives of UNESCO for secondary school students in Ebonyi State on Friday, June 23.

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Speaking at the Ebonyi State Women Development Centre, venue of the grand event, Aisha who was one of the resource persons for the program addressed the students intensively on the essence of being aware of their genotype before making any mutual commitment with the opposite sex. She said genotype status should be among the first questions to be asked when making a new friend, as the consequences of incompatible genotype are so dire, and can ruin the happiness of a relationship that was initially hinged on blind love.

She advised them to desist from pre marital sex, as it happens to be one of the many causes of the proliferation of sickle cell in the society. She also seized the opportunity to narrate the ordeals of persons living with the disorder, citing examples of how they re usually neglected by both family and the society. Her instances struck home the theme of the event, prompting people to know their genotype before making any mutual commitment.
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Aisha also admonished the state government to borrow a leaf from the Anambra State Assembly and enact a law that will protect the lives and rights of persons already living with the disorder. She said that a lot needs to be done in sensitization of citizens, as ignorance is another grace cause of the disorder in Nigeria.

She appreciated the efforts of Jennifer Okorie, the CEO of the foundation for deeming it wise to put together such a program where students are availed the necessary genotype knowledge they need to avoid mistakes. Aisha urged the State Government to support Okorie, as the cause she has begun is one that should be sustained, and counting her exploits from other charity activities one can deduce that she and her foundation are so passionate in easing the proliferation of the disorder.

In his remarks, Prof. John Eke, the Ebonyi State Commissioner of Education applauded Aisha and her Association for making the state proud in their endeavors, and urged her to come back to the state and replicate her exploits in other states. He promised that the Government through her able Governor, Engr. Dave Umahi will give the Association the needed support to arrest the issue of sickle cell in the state. The commissioner, who represented the Governor at the event, received a Surgically equipped first aid box from APLSCD.

Highlights of the event was the presentation of Jennifer Okorie Foundation, Humanitarian Service Award to Aisha Edward, the national  coordinator of APLSCD for her extraordinary contributions to ensuring the protection of rights of persons living with sickle cell anaemia, and her gallant strides in sickle cell advocacy.

The event was graced by, the Commissioner of Education, Prof. John Eke, who stood in for the governor, the Permanent Secretary Ebonyi State Ministry of Education, Dr. Nmachi Oluomachi of Ebonyi State Teaching Hospital, Teachers and Students from over 15 schools pulled across the senatorial Zones of the Sate.
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In the same vein, One of the APLSCD delegates, Miss Njideka Ikeagu who stood in for Aisha Edward at the Sickle Cell Advocacy rally, and Maiden Memorial Lecture of Dr Chukwudi Egwuatu organized by NAUMSA at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi dazzled the crowd as she x-rayed the pains of persons living with sickle cell.

The event was hosted in Memory of Dr. Egwuatu an ardent member of the sickle cell group and a practicing consultant with the teaching hospital before his demise early this year.

Aisha who spoke to the press after the event said it was a dream come true for the Association, as they had earlier pleaded on the Hospital to immortalize their late colleague who died fighting the scourge of the disorder. She professed how happy she was that the hospital thought it nice to immortalize him with the sickle cell rally.
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The event was graced by The Executive governor of Anambra state, represented by the Special adviser to the state government on drugs and pharmaceutical issues, Pharm. Valentine Chibuzor Okaa, the provost of the college, Prof A. M. E. Nwofor, the dean of the faculty of Medicine ably represented by Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeama, subdean of the faculty, and big wigs in the medical profession of Anambra state, counting from the NMA President Anambra chapter, Prof. Emejulu, the CMD and other high profiled consultants of the Nnewi Teaching Hospital and medical students pooled across Medical Students Associations in the South East.



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