Community, SCDAA, UNC extend the fight against Sickle Cell

By Chido Nwangwu

Special to

The challenge and pain caused by sickle cell disease in the African-American community has been a major one for decades. Hence, a continuing quest to tackle the problem has been a predictable drive in the community, nation-wide and internationally. Here, in the U.S., Vince Berkeley, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America [SCDAA], has been a champion of this cause for nine years. "Of all the afflictions and infirmities in our world today, Sickle Cell Disease is one of the most misrepresented, misunderstood and ill-funded. We must fix this - through education, communication, co-operation, dedication and dollars" notes Mr. Berkeley."

The SCDAA held a meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, for its 28th National Convention, September 27th through 30th, sponsored jointly by SCDAA and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. More than 500 delegates, sponsors and guests participated in policy decisions, health care and research forums devoted to finding a universal cure for sickle cell disease and to improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by this disease.

The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America [SCDAA], is also coordinated by a team of seasoned professionals such as Lynda K. Anderson, President/COO; Dr. Lennette J. Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer of SCDAA and Associate Professor of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Clinical Director Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers, Montefiore Hospital Center, Bronx, N.Y.; and many others at the national and local levels. According to publicist Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, "Approximately 100 member organizations in thirty states and Canada are involved in national and local programs to meet the needs of the broader sickle cell community that will attract appropriate funding for future growth and research. One such achievement is the creation of a new web site - — and other member organization web sites, designed to keep lines of communication open to share information, medical research updates and regional resources."

The Birmingham area was represented by Sharon Lewis, Executive Director of the Central Alabama Chapter, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, and Dr. Paul Amamoo, (Pediatrician) Chairman, Board of Directors of the Central Alabama Chapter, SCDAA. Tahira Yvonne Givan, a nine year old, fourth-grade student from Birmingham, was selected the Sickle Cell Poster Child for 2000-2001.

"Our focus is break the sickle cycle" says Berkeley who also serves as Senior Vice Presidents Worldwide Diversity Resources, Burger King Corporation. This sentiment is echoed throughout the membership that appears to be moving towards its current convention theme - Care and Cure In The 21st Century.

This is, indeed, a fight which requires the professional and personal effort of all. The sickle cell problem affects Blacks in large numbers.

Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, HABJ 1997, is Founder and Publisher of USAfrica The Newspaper, (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the Internet), The Black Business Journal,, and Currently, he serves on Houston Mayor Lee Brown's international business advisory board (Africa) and has been honored by the Washington-D.C.based National Immigration Forum for utilizing the media to fight authoritarianism and fostering freedom of expression in parts of African continent. Also, he was the only continental African publisher/reporter who traveled with and covered U.S. President Bill Clinton's historic visit to parts of Africa, March-April 2, 1998.