The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has presented a cheque for four million, five hundred thousand US dollars (USD4,500,000.00) to the Sickle Cell Foundation, towards the construction of a Centre of Excellence for Sickle Cell Treatment and Research at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana.
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic disease with frequent attacks of debilitating pain (‘crisis’), with many complications, including anaemia, stroke, infections, and ultimately, early death. It is the most common inherited disease in Africa.
Although sickle cell disease is found in many parts of the world, 80% of all babies with SCD are born in Africa, where close to 400,000 are born each year.
In Ghana, it is estimated that 15,000 babies are born each year with SCD, and almost 50% of them die before they reach the age of five, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The impact of the disease in adults is believed to be widespread, though difficult to measure, because of the late introduction of new-born screening programmes.
GNPC took the decision to fund the project, following an approach from the Sickle Cell Foundation, whose attempts to commence the project had stalled for many years due to lack of funding.
Presenting the cheque at a short ceremony at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, Mr Alexander Mould, Chief Executive of GNPC said: “Most Ghanaians will know someone directly or indirectly who has been impacted by Sickle Cell Disease, including the loss of loved ones. Sickle Cell predominantly affects those of African origin. As the national oil company, we believe we should provide meaningful assistance where we can, in areas that have an impact on our people and contribute to national development. It would be tragic to deny Ghanaians the benefit of this much-needed facility that will provide comfort and save many lives. We believe it is our responsibility to contribute to research and treatment for Ghanaians, in the hope of finding a lasting cure that can be shared globally.”
Professor Kwaku Ohene-Frimpong, a leading, medical practitioner on Sickle Cell; and Director with the Sickle Cell Foundation said: “The Sickle Cell Foundation is thrilled with GNPC’s investment in this project and we are proud to work towards establishing a project of this scale and importance in Ghana. We are profoundly grateful to His Majesty, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, for his support to this project. GNPC’s investment will enable us to offer much needed medical services, including routine medical and nursing consultation, acute illness consultation, blood transfusion services, in-patient management, and other specialised services including neurology, neurosurgery, general surgery and special evaluations such as Transcranial Doppler (TCD) screening for stroke prevention.”
The Sickle Cell Treatment and Research Centre will provide ample space for research, to attract research scientists to improve, and discover better treatment, in addition to training for medical and administrative staff.
GNPC’s investment will also cover the cost of acquiring materials, construction, provision of logistics and equipment.
Prior to this collaboration, GNPC supported the Sickle Cell Foundation to provide specialised training for health workers about sickle cell conditions.