#Article (Archive)

UK philanthropist launches book on sickle cell in Gambia

Dec 6, 2016, 11:25 AM | Article By: Isatou Senghore-Njie

Jenica Leah, a UK national from Birmingham who sponsors Gambian students affected with sickle cell, has launched a book on sickle cell entitled, My Friend Jen, as part of her efforts to sensitise the Gambian populace about the heritable blood disorder.

The book was launched in collaboration with the Sickle Cell Association of The Gambia on 25 November 2016 at the Regional Education Office in Kanifing.  Copies of the book were presented to the regional education authorities.

The author, herself a patient of sickle cell, said by writing the book, she wants to go a step further to sensitise the people about sickle cell and all its related issues.

Ms Leah said in the UK, about 15,000 people are living with sickle cell and most of them are below 19 years.

She said her passion is to help others who are also living with sickle cell so that they can help themselves rather than depend on others.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Janko Jawneh, a representative of the regional education director, said sickle cell is not a disease but a condition which can affect everybody.

“Sickle cell is not transmitted but might be inherit from parents,” he said.  “It does not have any cure but can be prevented.”

Dr Modou Bella Jallow, medical doctor at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, said sickle cell can cause recurrent pain and complications which can interfere with many aspects of a patient’s life, including education, employment and psychosocial development.

“Presently, there is no cure for the disease; however, cost-effective treatment exists for the pain and other aspects of the disease,” he said.

“The most important component of this treatment is early intervention with antibiotics, rest, good nutrition, folic acid supplementation and high fluid intake.

“At times, invasive procedures such as blood transfusions and surgery may be needed.”

Sickle cell disease is a heritable blood disorder that affects people in ways that can be felt and seen such causing pain and swelling.

It also affects people in less obvious ways such as slowing physical development, damage to internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and spleen.

Sickle cell can cause stroke, eye sight problems, acute chest syndrome, blindness, premature death and among more.