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World Sickle Cell Day: Special Focus on the Cells of a Generation’s Didi Project

-By Aisha Sambo

Like most sectors in Nigeria, from power, to technology, agriculture, and health, the Government still remains the most fundamental and strategic driver to the objectives of Sickle Cell Foundations across Nigeria. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, health has taken a centre stage in recent matters hence the call to reevaluate Nigeria’s health care system in catering for warriors. This article spotlights a remarkable organisation and the creative way they have come up with as their contribution to fighting Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD).

SCD is a life-long blood condition that does not receive enough attention or funding in Nigeria. SCD is particularly common with people who have descendants from Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Middle-East. In Nigeria, an estimated 150,000 children are born with SCD every year. There are many misconceptions about the disorder within African communities and living a healthy life might be difficult for SCD patients without the necessary education. SCD is no longer a death sentence but in countries like Nigeria, it is hard to manage without financial support.


Cells of a Generation (COAG) is one of the many registered non-profit and non-governmental organisations that help people living with SCD. The organisation aims to shift the narrative for people living with SCD through the instrumentality of information, re-orientation and peculiar needs-based intervention. COAG actively makes sure people with SCD can actively look after their condition without worrying about the avoidable complications that come with mismanaging their health.

COAG initiative supports everyone with sickle-cell disorder in hospital during COVID-19. Those with SCD have a weakened immune system, which puts them at a much higher risk of getting sick with COVID-19 and other infections going around. What is COAG doing to help young warriors across Nigeria you may ask, the group has partnered with GT Bank, Paystack, African Crowdfunding Association and inter-switch to provide relief materials to people with SCD during these difficult times. The organisation is focusing on genetic counselling through an animated information education communication (IEC) materials known publicly as The Didi Project.

The Didi project seeks to educate young patients, caregivers and other interested people on the management, prevention and stigmatisation of SCD. An educational comic book based on 13-year-old Didi drives the project. Didi is a fictional character and through her stories, readers get a first hand look into her life while dealing with the condition. In addition to this, COAG is looking to implement special interventions at schools or clinics with informative activities for teenagers. This project can really make an impact on the community as a whole.

As we mark this year’s World Sickle Cell Day on June 19, here are some tips for the warriors out there and what you can do to stay safe in this worrisome period of COVID-19;

  1. Stay at home as much as possible – Avoid non-essential travels, cross and public areas. I know it’s been months but hang in there the world still needs your brilliant mind.
  2. Stock up on supplies you need – Items to keep you healthy such as food, water and medication.
  3. Avoid Triggers – The goal is to keep you out of the hospital as it may be busier than normal. Maintain good hygiene and avoid triggers at all costs.