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As a child, growing up was fun as we always sang songs while playing. One I can never forget is the song “London is calling” – for whatever reason we sang the song, I really can’t say. However, we sang it happily and as I enjoyed the harmony, I never thought that one day I will be going to London, until the Arise Initiative presented an amazing opportunity to fulfill the lyrics of the song, “London is calling”.  On arrival, I reflected on my childhood song as I got to sight a beautiful scenery of green environment and as I took my breath the air filling my nostrils gave me a feeling I cannot forget in a hurry. I fell in love with London and just before I could grasp a good understanding of the country, I found myself back at the airport to leave for Nigeria. Ooh! What a brief, yet eventful and exciting stay I had.

Hello! I am Jonathan Manya Dogo, a Consultant Community Pharmacist and now, I can also say that I am a “Sickle Cell Pharmacist” based on the training provided by the Arise Initiative. Prior to my training, I had a peripheral knowledge on sickle disease however, the Becket House launched me into the world of Sickle Cell Disease through E-learning, I got to know more and was able to go beyond my knowledge, nothing good comes easy they say, and this I must attest to as I studied daily and got prepared for visits to various units that enabled me achieve the objective of my Secondment. I must confess that, the atmosphere in Becket House was made conducive for learning with friendly and kind staff members.

My learning experience was wholesome. I received lectures, practically learnt the process of Newborn screening and various sickle cell screening methods, and got the opportunity to shadow genetic counseling at the community Centre, and visited Evelina Children Pharmacy, Mountain Ward, Pediatric Medicine trial unit, Medicines Information, Manufacturing unit and Community Pharmacy.

I attended the ASCAT conference, where I met with Heamatologists, Infectious Diseases experts, scientists, pharmaceutical companies and Sickle Cell Disease patients who shared their experiences. During the conference the volumes and depth of research work across the world going on to improve the management of sickle cell patients and their lifespan were presented. As I listened and appreciated the research work, the major question on my mind was – in what ways can Pharmacists contribute to this global network of Sickle Cell Disease? And as I pondered, I realized it is through research especially on the drug management of sickle cell disease and then resolved to encourage Pharmacists to go into research on Sickle Cell Disease. I sincerely hope that this is an area Arise Initiative and ASCART will be glad to delve into as it would improve the use of medicines in the management of Sickle Cell Disease.

The opportunity to participate in the Evalina Friday heamatology clinic for teaching and discussion with different professionals in attendance was very amazing. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss a paper I am writing on Penicillin Prophylaxis in Sickle Cell Disease: Improving Adherence.

As a pharmacist, my visits to various areas of pharmacy practice are a lifetime experience and I am full of nostalgia any time I remember it. The learning environment was a great meeting point for different professionals where quality life-long friendships were developed.

Overall, the secondment was a unique opportunity I got to improve and refresh my knowledge, interact with colleagues and professionals across different fields which ignited the fire in me to do my best in improving the lives of sickle cell patients and humanity. My gratitude goes to the Arise Initiative, and Prof. Inusa Baba for the immense training, guidance, and mentoring.

I will always cherish my brief stay in London. However, one thing I desire to do to keep what I have learned alive is to implement the things in Nigeria and especially at my work place, ECWA Health Services irrespective of the obvious challenges. So, till London calls again, it is bye for now.