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Ikpeazu’s wife salutes Senate over passage of sickle cell bill

Nkechi Ikpeazu, the First Lady of Abia State and founder, Vicar Hope Foundation, has commended the Nigerian Senate for passing a legislation that seeks to reduce the prevalence of sickle cell disease in the country.

In a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ikpeazu said the Upper Legislative Chamber had acted responsively to help abate the disease in Nigeria.

Recall that few days ago, the Nigerian Senate passed a bill seeking to control and manage sickle cell anemia, a genetically inherited disease, in Nigeria.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Yahaya Oloriegbe at plenary.

The wife of the Abia State governor noted that against the backdrop that 160,000 Nigerian babies are born each year with sickle cell disorder and a high mortality rate, the Senate had set the stage to roll back the disease all over the country and save millions of lives.

“My work on Sickle Cell disease reveals that a lot of survivors often live below the poverty line, and the disease drains whatever little income is available to such families…This action by the Distinguished Senate have far-reaching positive outcomes for hundreds of thousands of families and unborn children,” Ikpeazu said.

Throwing more light on the issues, Chief Press Secretary to the Wife of the Governor of Abia State, Chika Ojiegbe described it as a welcome development.

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The spokesman disclosed that Ikpeazu was happy with the action of the Senate and Sam Egwu who sponsored the bill, because she understood what it meant to put in place a sustainable and consistent system, as legislation was one sure way of guaranteeing that the fight to eliminate sickle cell achieved targeted results.

According to Ojiegbe, “Ikpeazu is no stranger to legislative engagements. She is perhaps, the only First Lady in the country that has had the rare privilege of addressing lawmakers on the legislative floor during a House Plenary.

“We have a very effective omnibus model to prevent and manage sickle cell that works in Abia State, initiated and promoted by Ikpeazu, and we are willing to share experiences with the Federal Government. We have an enforcement team in place to ensure the law is obeyed. We have structures at all government levels in the state, a unit in the Ministry of Health, we have Disease focal desks in each LGA, we have a drug distribution system that also covers rural communities, we have counseling centres, we have introduced lessons on Sickle Cell Disorder in our school system and trained over 2000 teachers to deepen coverage and sensitisation.

“We have done several hundred sensitisation outreaches throughout the state and beyond. Two well-equipped sickle cell hospitals are working in the state courtesy of Ikpeazu’s NGO and there are plans to roll out in the 17 LGAs. In fact, we even have two movies that are a medium for carrying the message into homes.

“Some quarters are saying that with the bill passed by the Senate, the Federal Government is emulating what Ikpeazu has achieved in Abia State through advocacy and through her Foundation. Truth is, this is not the first time that Ikpeazu is leading from the front. Recall that in late 2015, Ikpeazu promoted the idea of free school meal in public schools and then Abia State was effectively able to start providing meals for school kids in early 2016 almost a year before the Federal Government rolled out its programme,’’ Ojiegbe said.

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