Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia says increased public awareness is a veritable tool for curbing Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in the society.
Ikpeazu stated this on Friday at the 7th anniversary of the Vicar Hope Foundation, a pet project of the governor’s wife, at the Michael Okpara Auditorium, Umuahia.
The governor said that SCD had been associated with various myths which had contributed to the prevalence of the disease in the society, adding that improved public awareness would aid in demystifying the scourge.
“The challenges of sickle cell disease is that there is a lot of mystery around it and we tend to attribute it to all kinds of things such as ‘Ogbanje’, curses from the forefathers for what they did and did not do.
“So, in curbing the menace of sickle cell disease,we should demystify the disease through increased awareness campaign; in doing, so one cannot go wrong,” he said.
He called on members of the society to show love and support to sickle cell patients and shun all forms of discriminations against them.
Ikpeazu commended the Foundation for its achievements in women empowerment, healthcare delivery, building of houses for the indigent, advocacy for genotype test, and campaign against gender-based violence, among others.
In an address, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, the wife of the governor, expressed firm resolve to remain committed to offering assistance to the indigent members of the society, “because the smile on the faces of the beneficiaries gave her great joy.”
Ikpeazu said that the past seven years of her foundation’s existence had not been without challenges, adding that the motivating factor had remained the successes recorded in various spheres of life.
“The joys and pleasures of helping people is unique and you must not have so much to be a blessing to the world.
“You can touch people’s lives with small resources and all that is needed is a generous heart.
“We will work assiduously to deliver our mandate with the support of our friends and partners,” she said.
Ikpeazu said that the foundation had entered into partnership with Abia Telehealth Initiative to introduce the use of technology in the foundation’s sickle cell interventions in a bid to strengthen its response, care and management system.
Prof. Kate Ndukauba, a member of the board of trustees of the Foundation, said that the result of the foundation’s activities in the past seven years had been rewarding.
Ndukauba said that the foundation was committed to sustaining its mandate to improve the livelihood of the indigent and provide access to better healthcare for Sickle cell patients.
She said that plans were underway to increase the efforts of the foundation in boosting the campaign against sickle cell disease in the state and nation at large.
“The Federal Government is rolling out a policy on sickle cell disorder, and we I tend to join that train.
” From the experience we have gathered in Abia, we believe that we can play critical roles to support and complement what the government at the national level,” Ndukauba said.
The highlight of the occasion was a presentation of the biography of the wife of the governor with the title “Humility, Compassion and Service: The Nkechi Ikpeazu Story”
The event also featured the presentation of a book co-authored by the wife of the governor titled “Understanding Industrial Psychology”.
The event was witnessed by Chief Henry Ikoh, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, the Deputy Governor of Abia, Chief Ude Oko, among other dignitaries.