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World Sickle Cell Day: NGO asks employers not to disqualify prospective workers over genotype

Josephine Olunaike, founder of the Beulah Sickle Cell Foundation, says employers should not disqualify prospective candidates because of their genotype.

Olunaike spoke on Wednesday at an event to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and commemorate World Sickle Cell Day.

The event, with the theme “Breaking stigmas: Promoting acceptance and understanding of sickle cell disease,” was organised by Mirror Me in partnership with Gehenesphere.

Olunaike said sickle cell is not a death sentence, noting that patients will move above every limitation with a positive attitude, the right mentality, and society’s help.

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She appealed to healthcare practitioners not to make assumptions that sickle cell warriors pretend to be in pain to get drugs.

“Sometimes you make up your mind even before they finish talking. They are not drug addicts,” Olunaike said.

“I also want to appeal to employers; don’t disqualify them before you meet them. Once an employer knows someone has sickle cell, they say it looks like a bad market.

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“Sickle cell is very expensive to maintain. We don’t want to beg; give them the opportunity, especially when you know they can do the work.

“We cannot say we will not give them jobs and opportunities to make money when they have a lifelong health situation. So we are appealing at this time, please, in your employment space, create space for warriors.

“We are equally appealing to society. Let’s stop the stigmatisation.”

On his part, Ovye Ewuge, a consultant haematologist at the federal medical centre (FMC), Keffi, in Nasarawa state, said sickle cell anaemia can be managed despite being a lifelong disease.

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“Those living with sickle cell disease must always consider visiting the hospital first when in a pain crisis and not the pharmacy. This will ensure they are properly treated,” he said.

“There are about 200,000 children born every year with sickle cell disease. But with proper sensitisation of intending couples, we can bring that figure down.”

Ojo Daniel, the organiser of the event and principal executive of Mirror Me, said that the programme came on board after documenting the story of Destiny Kobiro Eselemo, who was the sickle cell warrior of the day.

He said there is a need to promote acceptance of patients with sickle cell, noting that the condition is not a death sentence.

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“We should stop seeing them as lazy or weak. They are also strong,” Daniel said.

 

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