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Sickle Cell Disease Centre To Be Built In Bafut 

By Chris Mbunwe

 

A sickle cell centre will soon be built in Bafut in the Northwest Region. This was the resolve of delegates to the first-ever international sickle cell conference that took place at the Bamenda Catholic University Campus recently.

 

Speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the occasion, international legal expert, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle, thanked the medics, who, together with the Catholic Church, bestowed on him the honour to chair such a conference. Nico Halle said the disease, which is less talked about has been destroying lives of Cameroonians and others world over. 

 

“In as much as I am not of the medical field I took several weeks to do research on what this disease is all about. My findings showed that the sickle cell disease has no cure but can be controlled with available drugs and a patient who takes the treatment seriously can live up to 80 years. 

The initiators of this first conference in Africa who decided it should hold in Bamenda makes me think that the occasion is historic. “The initiators, Dr. Michael Neba and wife from the United States, together with the Catholic Church, make us proud, because the Northwest Region which is seen to be renowned for negative issues is sending good signals today,” Ntumfor said. 

 

He paid tribute to late Rev. Father John Kolkman, a Dutch, who worked in Cameroon for over two decades and showed a lot of concern for sickle cell patients. In a bid to honour the late prelate, the three-day seminar saw the launching of fundraising to construct the centre for sickle cell patients in Bafut, to be known as “Father John Kolkman Foundation”.

 

The Vice Chancellor of the Catholic University of Bamenda, Rev. Father Michael Neba, regretted that the sickle cell disease has been neglected for too long and individual patients have been left to battle with the disease alone. On his part, Northwest Public Health Delegate, Dr. Victor Ndiforchu, recalled that the seed of the conference were sowed in 2007 when Cardinal Tumi embraced the idea for the Church to support this project. 

 

He requested Cameroonians to go to hospitals and know their blood group so as to start early treatment in case they are identified with the disease. He pledged support from his Ministry, saying the sickle cell centre shall be fully integrated into the Ministry of Public Health.

 

At the close of the seminar, participants resolved, amongst others, to press on Government to legislate on the disease for drugs to be affordable, and for patients to pay exchange visits.

 

Sickle cell disease is the name of a group of inherited disorders of haemoglobin. There are several kinds of sickle cell diseases, but the most common are; Sickle Cell Anaemia (HbSS), Sickle Cell disease (HbSc) and Sickle Beta – thalassaemia (HbSBeta-thal). The prevalence rate of the disease is high in Africa, India, Middle East, North America, Southern Europe and the Caribbean.

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