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Esther C; Secondment Journey With African Research And Innovative Initiative For Sickle Cell Education (Arise)

The Making of a History

Ground breaking medical advances were made in the 18th century that are of interest to me as a public health practitioner. For instance, integration of immunization for disease prevention in Europe, and Dr Edward Jenner is a notable name among others.Within the 4 months of secondment with ARISE, I experienced advancement comparable to foregoing history, a memory of 21st century.

My name is Esther Agmadalo Malachi Cegbeyi, a medical doctor and a senior registrar with the department of Community Medicine, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital. I had my masters, MSc-Public Health with University of South Wales, United Kingdom. Leadership and Management in Health at the University of Washington.

My secondment with ARISE was totally a different experience. I worked as a researcher under work package 6 (WP6) – Training and support for clinical research. This work package develops capacity for clinical research among clinicians working in sickle cell disease clinics in Africa, with the aim of improving care for sickle cell disease patients. I was at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Euston and also at Guy’s and St Thomas Hospital Westminster.

Why am I comparing my achievements with that of the 18th century? Because new things came into medical practice – vaccine, stethoscope, documented research materials that changed medical practice as this opportunity has changed my perspective. Specific achievements include:

  1. Award of Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship
  2. A certificate on the course ‘Chronic Global Conditions’
  3. Presentation of an abstract at ASCAT conference and certificate of participation/Volunteering
  4. Participating in the monthly Haemoglobinopathy Panel, Multi-Disciplinary Team, at Guy’s and ST Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
  5. Proposed research on the Knowledge and Attitudes of Medical and Nursing Students in the United Kingdom to Sickle Cell disease.

At Guy’s and ST Thomas Hospital (GSTT), I participated in hematology clinic at the Evelina’s children’s hospital, attending to children with sickle cell disease, and got firsthand experience of how these children are managed in the UK. I did attend the clinic at Wooden spoon house, Dugard way, a branch of Guy’s and ST Thomas, where counselling sessions with clients on Pre-conception, Pre- implantation Genetic Diagnosis, Pre-marital counselling are provided. Also, the monthly educative, interactive ‘Haemoglobinopathy Panel, Multi-Disciplinary Team, at Guy’s and ST Thomas NHS Foundation Trust’. On the critical care of Sickle cell disease and Thalassemia patients, which I still participate in monthly.

Webinar sessions on pediatric nephrology. Discussions on various manifestations of kidney diseases in sickle cell disease, the pathophysiology and how best to monitor and manage renal disease in these children. Webinar sessions organized by Kings College London on the introduction to sickle cell and Thalassemia; Acute management in children and Adults with Sickle Cell Disease.

I was also a volunteer at the ASCAT conference, most of the duties I participating in were logistics, organization and ensuring participants were comfortable, it was memorable. The conference ended up with a gala night and a send forth for Prof Baba Inusa, we merry, wine and dined and I learnt some dance steps too.

The ‘Turning Point’ moment, was the opportunity given to me to participate and present my abstract at the 17th Annual Academy of Sickle Cell and Thalassemia Conference (ASCAT) at London, United Kingdom on the 20th to 22nd October,2022. I had the opportunity to submit an abstract for ASCAT towards the last week of my secondment on the research on ‘Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice of Genotype screening among Undergraduate Medical Students in the University of Abuja.

In due course, I would improve knowledge and skills on clinical and field research related to Sickle cell in my community and institution. I will also step down the acquired skills and knowledge to other doctors and staff of the institution especially the Community Health Extension Workers(CHEWS). Also, I want to contribute to the implementation and day to day activities of the ARISE project in my institution and environs in Nigeria. ARISE project has given me the opportunity to learn in an international and developed society, on the best practices of newborn screening, prenatal diagnosis, diagnosis and management of Sickle cell patients and clinical research.

I specially want to thank the ARISE team I worked with, my family and friends, you all made this great achievement happen in my life and medical practice. Permit me to make a list: Fedele (Duccio) Bonifazi (Project Coordinator and PMT Member); Prof. Baba Psalm Inusa (Project Scientific Coordinator and PMT Member); Serena Ottomano (Project Manager); Ola Tijjani (Programme Managers); Annalisa Landi (WP8 Leader); Prof Paul Milligan (WP6 leader at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); Dr Susana Scott (Supervisor LSHTM); Lucy Bell (Project Coordinator LSHTM); Dr Ramsey Yalma (Abuja Team Lead). Thank you all.