By Gilbert Ekezie
Stakeholders from across Africa and the world gathered in Lagos to share ideas and profer evidence-based recommendations during the virtual second African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease (ACSCD), with the theme “Working to Overcome Sickle Cell Disease: What next?”
The congress, organized by Doctor Sickle Cell/Sickle Cell Disease Africa, is recognised as one of the most inclusive sickle cell conferences.
The five-day event featured over 98 speakers that ranged from public health and sickle cell experts, medical practitioners, researchers, academics, advocates, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as people living with sickle cell disease (PLWSCD).
Speakers included former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; director for WHO, Africa region, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti; Senator Jane Cordy; Prof. Obiageli Nnodu; Prof. Baba Inusa; Zakareya Al Kadhim; Mrs. Lanre Tunji-Ajayi; Beverley Francis-Gibson; Biba Tinga; Dr. Stephen Boateng; and Dr. Pradeep Mahajan, among others.
Participating organizations included the World Health Organization (WHO) for African region, Ministry of Health, Zambia, Ministry of Health, Nigeria, Ministry of Health, Kenya, Sickle Cell 101, NCDI Poverty Network, Africa Sickle Cell Alliance, Pan-African Sickle Cell Federation, Sickle Cell Federation of Kenya, East African Sickle Cell Disease Alliance, Sickle Cell Foundation of Minnesota, American Society of Hematology, National Marrow Donor Program/BeTheMatch, Australian Sickle Cell Advocacy Inc, SickleLife Ghana, Sickle-Cell Advocacy & Management Initiative, and Amplifying Sickle-Cell Voices, among others.
Indeed, the programme was filled with educational, inspirational, and amazing virtual experiences, with 243 participants from over 16 countries in Africa and across the globe.
Following the theme of the congress, the ACSCD chairman, Dr. David Ajaere, said it was best to review the current state of sickle cell disease in Africa and impact positively on its outcome.
He noted that, as stakeholders gathered virtually as a collective, there was need to respond to the growing challenge of sickle cell disease in Africa.
ACSCD grand patron, Chief Obasanjo, stressed the need for stakeholders to work together and share information, instead of working independently.
Moeti also stated that the global coalition on sickle cell disease was being established and expressed hope that all would join it: “We are presently calling for more stakeholders from the African continent to join this global movement, from civil society organizations to the private sector and government. The creation of an African coalition will further enhance and unify our collective efforts.”
The ACDCD international coordinator, Ambassador Eddie Resphanto, explained the goal of the event was to bring ideas to the sickle cell community and push everyone to think about addressing the challenges in a different way.
He assured the audience that videos of all presentations would be posted on the Virtual Congress Platform (WHOVA) for participants to access in the coming weeks.
Event sponsors this year were Novartis, with grant support from Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) and proudly supported by WHO, Federal Ministry of Health and Stanbic IBTC.