As the world marked 2016 World Sickle Cell Day on 19th June, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), under the leadership of Global Health Advocate, Mrs Toyin Saraki, Wife of Nigeria’s Senate President and Founder-President of the Foundation, and through its #MaternalMonday Campaign, #MamaCare Ante-natal & Post-natal Care Awareness Project, and #LetsLearnSTEM Programme, conducted impactful activities to sensitise Nigerian women, children and families, at its frontline focal states of Kwara, Lagos, and Abuja, on the issues around sickle cell disease. Nigeria has the highest rates of sickle cell disease in the world, with about 150,000 children born with this inherited, but preventable disease, every year. This represents close to half of the global burden of this disease, and an indication for the huge public health importance of this non-communicable disease (NCD).
Commencing with its #MaternalMonday global advocacy campaign, on 20th June, the WBFA directly engaged over 60,000 participants, and its wider global audience on key facts for wellbeing regarding Sickle Cell Disease and its impact on Pregnancy and Maternal Health. This informed mothers and their healthcare workers, on health-seeking behavior, for better outcomes, through lively social media conversations, globally, across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In line with its long-standing tradition of matching advocacy with frontline actions to achieve citizen-level impact, the Foundation’s #MamaCare Project, an innovative series of expert midwife-led, modern antenatal, perinatal and postnatal education curriculum classes, delivered freely to over 650 expectant mothers weekly, at its facility-based locations in Kwara State, Lagos State, Abuja FCT and IDP Camps, sensitised its expectant and new mothers, on the necessity to #KnowYourGenotype, along with special care precautions, detections and management of sickle cell disease and anaemia in pregnancy, as well as the perinatal and post-partum periods, to avoid life-threatening disabling crises.
In extending its #MamaCare Sickle Cell Awareness Week to children and adolescents, the WBFA, in collaboration with the Future Assured Initiative of Her Excellency Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, Wife Of The President of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria, embarked on a series of children and youths awareness campaigns to participating educational institutions at Lagos Military Cantonment School, in order to bring Sickle Cell Awareness to over a thousand children and adolescent citizen students in Lagos State, as well as their teachers and families, in lively and colorful interactive lectures led by WBFA’s #MamaCare Midwife Ambassadors and #MaternalMonday Personal Social Health Education Counselors (PSHE), where children were sensitised on #knowyourgenotype, and to recognize the signs and symptoms of sickle cell disease, in its variant forms.
In Abuja, the awareness campaigns were taken to WinnieKidz International Primary School, Wuse, as well as Model Secondary School, Maitama. At these selected schools, the Nigeria Country Director of the Foundation, Dr Luther-King Fasehun, led educational talks and awareness-raising campaigns for pupils, students and their teachers, encouraging them to be aware of preventive measures, including the #KnowYourGenotype Campaign. This was also done in collaboration with the Future Assured Initiative, and the students and teachers were grateful for the exercise books received, courtesy of Her Excellency, Mrs Buhari. Also, mathematical instruments from Her Excellency, Mrs Saraki’s #LetsLearnSTEM Programme were distributed to students, to their delight, as well as that of their teachers.
Also on Friday, 24th June 2016, and in extension of The Wife of the President, Her Excellency, Mrs Aisha Buhari’s kind donation, in commemoration of the World Sickle Cell Awareness Week, of several hundred exercise books to students of Almuwahidden School, Ilorin, Kwara State through her pet project- The Future Assured, Wellbeing Foundation Africa programme officers presented Maths Set to all the students of the school at the programme, as donated by Her Excellency, Mrs Toyin Saraki. Health talks on sickle cell condition, genotype, keeping of health records and nutrition, were held during the programme, which had in attendance women groups across Kwara State, representatives from the Kwara State Ministry of Health, members of the Parent Teacher Association (P.T.A.) of the school as well as students of the Almuwahideen School. Speaking on Sickle cell and genotype, a Director in the Kwara State Ministry of Health, Dr Arigidi advised parents to know the genotype of their children and educate them as early as possible on the implications of the genotype, for instance child with an AS or SS genotype must be careful on the choice of a life partner, so as not to bring forth a child with sickle cell disease. Dr Hassan, also from the Kwara State Ministry of Health, spoke on the importance of Health Records in hospitals; he explained that when a patient comes to the hospital, the Nurse or Doctor will ask certain vital questions in order to determine the type of treatment to give the patient, he noted that the WellBeing Foundation Africa has collaborated with the Kwara State Ministry of Health with the provision of Personal Health Record (PHR) booklets. WBFA midwife, Mrs Patricia Komolafe, spoke on the importance of good nutrition, advising parents that their children need a lot of protein and other nutrients to ensure progressive growth. Also in Kwara, earlier in the week, during the antenatal classes, expectants mothers were given lectures on sickle cell disease prevention and early detection.
In goodwill messages from Mrs Toyin Saraki, mothers and students alike were encouraged “to know their genotypes, to elevate health-seeking behavioral care, as being more beneficial to their health and wellbeing, than uninformed emergency point-of-need interventions,” while Mrs Saraki commended the uncommon vision and strategic partnership of Her Excellency, Mrs Aisha Buhari’s Future Assured Program saying “it has been an honour and privilege, and remains an impactful pleasure, to encourage and be encouraged by our collaborations with Future Assured, for the wellbeing and benefit of Nigerian children, truly encapsulating the African proverb ‘if you want to walk fast, walk alone, if you want to walk far, walk together’, truly we are honored to walk far together with Future Assured.”
In total, participating schools and students received over 1,000 kits of Wellbeing Foundation Africa Mathematical Instruments Sets, donated by its Founder, Wife of the Senate President, Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki, in support of the WBFA’s #LetsLearnSTEM Textbooks And Learning Materials Program; and over 1,000 lined exercise books donated by the Future Assured Program of the Wife Of The President Federal Republic Of Nigeria, Mrs Aisha Muhamadu Buhari, all of which were gratefully received by the participating students and institutions.
Credit: Sync Media House
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