Kakamega First Lady H.E Prof. Janet Kassily Barasa accompanied by her Kisumu County counterpart H.E Dorothy Nyong’o today, Saturday, led residents of Kakamega County in launching sickle cell awareness month at St. Lukes Cathedral, Marama Central Ward, Butere Sub-County.

Speaking during the launch, Prof. Janet pointed out that sickle cell, a complex disease characterised by abnormally-shaped red blood cells, affected countless lives globally, Kakamega County being unexceptional.

Last year alone, Prof. Janet said, Kakamega recorded 361 newly diagnosed cases in its health data registry. All the 12 Sub-Counties reported new cases with Matungu Sub-County recording 80 new warriors, the highest,

The First Lady noted that lack of access to proper screening or diagnosis and the unavailability of essential drugs were the two most critical challenges facing the war against sickle cell disease.

“Proper medical care and access to necessary medications are paramount in managing the symptoms and complications of sickle cell disease,” she said.

In addressing these challenges, Prof. Janet said there was need for concerted efforts by healthcare providers, Government agencies, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders to create a comprehensive strategy that will tackle the issues of screening and drug availability.

In further addressing these, she added that health education and awareness campaigns should also be intensified to dispel myths and misconceptions surrounding sickle cell disease.

“By fostering a culture of understanding, stigma associated with the condition could be eliminated and an environment of empathy and support created”, she said.

Prof. Janet urged the department of health to prioritise sickle cell disease prevention and treatment interventions and develop research, surveillance and treatment of heritable blood disorders, ensure availability of supplies of the medication required by the warriors, intensify health promotion, education and awareness campaigns and to develop a bill to subsidise their cost of medication.

She lauded H.E Dorothy Nyong’o and partners: DAMKA, Jacaranda Health and other stakeholders for their dedication to the cause and being part of the crucial movement.

On her part, Dr Dorothy Nyong’o shared the same sentiments saying there was need for comprehensive advocacy to address numerous challenges sickle cell warriors face while seeking healthcare services.

The event saw the warriors receive blankets, sanitary pads and other donations from H.E Prof. Janet Barasa.