At the beginning of this administration on May 29th, 2015, Dame Edith Okowa, wife of the Governor of Delta state and Founder O5 Initiative set her heart to establish Sickle Cell Clinics across the State through her NGO the O5 Initiative.
The Sickle Cell Clinics are established to ensure quick response to Sickle cell Patients waiting on long queues in hospitals before help gets to them. Her intention is also to create awareness and bring succour to the lives of Children suffering from Sickle cell disorder, to ensure that they are well taken care of and that they live life to the fullest.
Considering the challenges of Sickle Cell patients and the stress they go through during crisis, Dame Okowa’s vision is to establish a sickle Cell Clinic in every local Government area where there is a General Hospital; so far She has equipped and commissioned 12 Sickle Cell Clinics in; Agbor, Ughelli Sapele, Oleh, Kwale, Eku, Patani, Koko, Otujeremi, Orereokpe, Iseleuku and Umunede. These clinics are fully functional with doctors and genetic counsellors attached to them. The O5 Initiative is working on the referral centre in Asaba which will soon be commissioned.
The wife of the Governor, is pained by the challenges parents go through when their children are in crisis and therefore sees it as a privilege to give hope and meaning to patients who do not have anyone to care for them. Her dream of promoting good health is in line with the SMART agenda of the State Government to provide Health for all Deltans.
With the awareness created by the O5 Initiative, Parents no longer hide the status of their children, young people are also aware of the need to check their genotype before marriage. So far the misconception surrounding Sickle Cell is gradually easing off as Dame Okowa has become the voice to the voiceless. The need for the fight against discrimination, stigmatization and misconception surrounding Sickle Cell anaemia cannot be over emphasized; therefore people should not look at it as a death sentence.
In the last three and a half years, the O5 Initiative has recorded resounding success; to a large extent, the facilities provided have alleviated the sufferings, brought joy and restored hope to the survival and success patients. One of the many successes recorded is the sponsorship of free surgery for a 23 year old under graduate Blessing Onojewho who is one of our survival and success patients in Otu Jeremi.
The O5 initiative sponsored her treatment for hip replacement which was successfully carried out at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital Oghara.
Ogochukwu Okonta Nwachukwu is a sickle cell patient and a beneficiary of the O5 initiative. She was abandoned by her parents in an uncompleted building waiting for her to die because she was always sick; due to the lack of care she became crippled and was impregnated by one of the boys who pretend to be helping her. The late Mrs Umukoro our focal person on sickle Cell found Ogor and brought her to Dame Edith Okowa who provided her with accommodation, a wheel chair and cared for her till she gave birth to a baby girl who is now 3years old. Ogor has many reasons to be happy since she came in contact with the wife of the Governor.
One way of helping themselves outside the clinic is that through the Sickle Cell Clubs around the state where the Genetic Counsellors take care them. They have a day of meeting once in a month to discuss the progress they have made and get free drugs. Now, they know where to go to and who to talk to.
No doubt the passion shown by Dame Okowa is worth emulating as she requests for continuous partnership from Parents, Care givers and well meaning individuals to further the cause of putting smiles on the faces of these children. According to Dame Okowa, “each time I look at them, I see a bright future; they are not a misfit but heroes to be celebrated.”
To establish a well equipped Sickle Cell referral Centre that will bring effective solution to sickle cell disorder.