January 27, 2020
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Nigerian Professor of Genetics and Animal breeding, Professor Cyril Oroname Otoikhian, last Friday, 24th January, held a public lecture with Sierra Leonean journalists on his intention to eradicate sickle cell in Africa.
Professor Otoikhian is a senior lecturer at Novena University, Ogume, Nigeria and also the President and Founder of the EOFundation,Edo State.
While lecturing at the Nigerians in Diaspora Sierra Leone Office on Jomo Kenyatta Road in Freetown, Professor Otoikhian started off by introducing one Margret Cassell as his project ambassador in Sierra Leone.
He disclosed that he first met Cassell on social media at the time she contested the Miss Sierra Leone Beauty Pageant as she is the only contender living with sickle cell.
He admitted that the prevalence of sickle cell is high in Africa as a result of the wrong message communicated about it, thus dismissing information making the rounds that a person can be infected with the disease through mosquito bite.
He said sickle cell is a combination of male and female genetics and explained that people living with the condition are prone to death at age twenty-one because that is the period they are physically active than any other time.
He said his campaign was focused on eradicating sickle cell and that he would use Sierra Leone as the breeding ground to launch the campaign for all other African countries.
He recalled that the first person that was ever diagnosed with sickle cell was a Sierra Leonean.
He said the Western world has been describing sickle cell as an African disease-a statement he considered as racist, thus admitting that sickle cell cannot be cured, but that it can be ‘managed’.
He said his project is focused on ending sickle cell in Africa and stopping the discrimination and stigmatization attached to it.
The expert added that the only way the disease can be eradicated is by breaking the chain from someone giving birth to SS genotype-the worst form of sickle cell.
He said because people are not aware about their genotype before getting married is one of the main reasons why sickle cell prevalence is high in Africa.
He therefore called on journalists and other attendees to take the massage to every nook and cranny of the country so that people know their genotype before giving birth to children.
Speaking earlier, one of the partners, who double as the Secretary General of Nigerians in the Diaspora, Bala Tijani, said they are one of those organizations that are working with the Professor to see that sickle cell is eradicated in Africa.
He said they partnered with the Professor because such project is in line with what his organization intend doing as a way of giving back to the people of Sierra Leone.
EOFoundation is also partnering with Concord Times Communications and Maries Stopes to help eradicate the disease in Sierra Leone.