MTN Foundation boosts fight against Sickle Cell with DNA laboratory upgrade

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In a bid to reduce the death of Sickle Cell patients at an early age, the MTN Founation on Tuesday in Lagos handed over newly equipped DNA laboratory to the Sickle Cell Foundation.

Mr Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, Chairman, MTN Foundation, at the official handing over of the laboratory, said it was in honour of the foundation’s longstanding commitment to improve healthcare delivery and capacity development.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule composed of two chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses.

Adelusi-Adeluyi said: “MTN Foundation has completed the upgrade and installation of advanced equipment at the ‘agship DNA Laboratory of the Sickle Cell Foundation Nigeria (SCFN) in Lagos.

“With one in four Nigerians as a carrier of the sickle cell gene, continuing our investment in the latest research and technology in this field will ensure that SickleCell Centre continues its valuable work of empowering our mothers and children with access to cost-effective, life-saving in-country care.”

He said that the foundation would continue to support the DNA Laboratory with investments in technology, counselling and capacity building of personnel and enabling the National Sickle Cell Centre to deliver Prenatal Diagnosis (PND) services.

Adelusi-Adeluyi added that the foundation, in collaboration with SCFN, funded the development of the DNA laboratory in 2006.

He said prior to that, test samples were taken abroad for further analysis and diagnosis after preliminary tests were conducted in Nigeria.

The foundation chairman said that the laboratory would not only serve Nigeria, but the whole of West Africa region.

In his remarks, the SCFN Chairman, Prof. Olu Akinyanju, said the laboratory upgrade was a critical step in aiding the SCFN to achieve its goals of delivering world-class care to Nigerian sickle cell patients.

“With the upgrade of the DNA Laboratory, which is now operating at full functional capacity, we can boasts of the latest technology.

“It includes a genetic analyser and other advanced equipment needed to ensure the end to end diagnosis of the sickle cell disorder in pregnant women,” he said.

Also, the National Director, Sickle Cell Foundation, Dr Annette Akinsete, said that the laboratory presented by MTN was a key and prime unit of national Sickle Cell Centre.

According to her, Nigeria is a country with the largest Sickle Cell patients.

“No fewer than150,000 babies are born with this condition every year and unfortunately, available resources to ameliorate the problem were inadequate.

“With the upgrade of this DNA laboratory, it will be easy to manage these patients and also reduce the death rate in the country,” Akinsete said. (NAN)

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