As Cross River State prepare to mark the 2020 World Sickle Cell day, the Sickle Cell Support Network and the Department of Haematology University of Calabar Teaching Hospital have called for an end to stigmatization of people with covid 19 symptoms.

Speaking on Thursday during an advocacy visit to the Commissioner for Health Cross River State, Dr Betta Edu on activities planned to celebrate the day in the State, President of the Network, Deborah Ononokpono disclosed that 2020 celebration is focused on Covid-19: the rate of stigmatization and its effect on sickle cell patients as this year’s theme is “Keeping Hope Alive: Sickle Cell Disease and Covid-19.

Ononokpono stated that the network was looking forward to maintaining the health of people living with Sickle Cell Disease as they are known to be at higher risk with respect to Covid-19 Pandemic.

Head of Department Haematology and Blood Transfusion UCTH, Dr Obinna Iheanacho appealed for palliatives support, relief materials and treatment support for major complications from the state government.

Dr Edu who agreed that stigmatization was on the rise, however gave an assurance that the State Government will step up sensitization efforts to reduce rate of marriage amongs AS and end mortality amongs sickle cell patients. She promised that the state will consider sickle cell carriers among those to access free health care under the State Health Insurance Scheme.

World Sickle Cell Day is a United Nation’s recognised day to raise awareness of Sickle Cell at a National and International level and adopted by United Nations General Assembly on 22nd December 2008, with a resolution that recognises Sickle Cell Disease as a public health problem and “one of the world’s foremost genetic diseases. The resolution calls for members to raise awareness of Sickle Cell on June 19th of each year at National and International level.

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