By Nelson Manneh
The Gambia Sickle Cell Association Banjul Chapter has on Friday 19th June 2021 commemorated the International Sickle Cell Day at the Guaranty Trust Bank headquarters along Kairaba Avenue
Themed “Knowledge is Power ”, the event started with a march pass from Westfield to the GT Bank headquarters. Established in August 2007, the association aims to raise awareness on sickle cell diseases in The Gambia. It also aims to build awareness within communities and impact positively on the lives of individuals and families affected by sickle cell disease.
Alieu Badara W. Sambou, the president of the association, said sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout one’s body.
“Normally, the flexible, round red blood cells move easily through blood vessels. In Sickle cell anemia, the red blood is shaped like sickles or crescent moons and is caused by inheriting the sickle cell gene,” he said. “The Sickle Cell Association Banjul Chapter (The Gambia) has been established with four (4) primary objectives which include Testing & Screening; Case Management; Genetic Counseling; and Public Outreach and Education.”
Mr. Sambou said everything their association does is aimed at improving the quality of life and empower individuals and families affected by sickle cell disease.
“We believe that through education, we can move towards a world free of health, economic and social disparities caused by sickle cell disease,” he said.
Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member for Banjul North Constituency, said children should not blame their parents for being carriers of the sickle cell diseases because most of them don’t know that they are living with the diseases.
“Sickle cell is a disease which is not transmitted but can be inherited from one generation to another and you can only detect it or come to realize that you are a carrier if you conduct the genotype test,” he said.
Sillah said the Health Insurance Bill is before the national assembly and whenever it is passed and becomes an Act, the sickle cell diseases will be considered because it is a disease that needs special attention.