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MMUST Embarks on Training of Trainers to Debunk Sickle Cell Disease Myths and Misconceptions

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) has embarked on Training of Trainers (ToT) to debunk the myths and misconceptions about Sickle Cell Disease, as plans to establish a Research Center for the disease at MMUST continue. The training held on 2nd July 2024, was in collaboration with the County Government of Kakamega, Ball State University, and the International Development Boresha Jamii (UBJ) initiative.  This is a significant stride towards creating awareness and dispelling the pervasive myths and misconceptions revolving around Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), a devastating illness rampant in Western Kenya.

The timely transformative training that comes when the world commemorates Sickle Cell Awareness Month saw the convergence of personnel from diverse fields including medical practitioners, researchers, educators, human health activists, and SCD warriors. The event was graced by the First Lady, of Kakamega County- Prof. Janet Kassily Barasa. She applauded the University for spearheading the Sickle Cell Disease initiative, adding that with this collaboration, the disease would no longer be a burden to the affected households.


The First Lady, of Kakamega County- Prof. Janet Kassily Barasa addressing participants during the training.

“There is a knowledge gap in handling and treatment of Sickle Cell Disease. Therefore, it is our duty as researchers to provide knowledge to demystify myths and misconceptions about this disease. I am glad to report that the County Government of Kakamega has established a sickle cell center at Butere Sub-County Hospital and is in the process of putting up another center at Mumias Sub-County Hospital,” said Prof. Kassily.

Prof. Winnie Mucherah of Ball State University, one of the champions of the SCD initiative revealed that this project is aimed at setting up a Center of Excellence for screening and diagnosis of sickle cell anemia disease at MMUST. She noted that lack of awareness and limited access to screening together with wrong and late diagnosis are the main challenges facing SCD patients. Prof. Mucherah urged the trainers to network with their respective communities to identify those living with the condition and offer them help accordingly.


Prof. Winnie Mucherah of Ball State University speaks at the training.

“Establishing this Center of Excellence at MMUST will be a game-changer and a life-saving initiative for the people of Kakamega County considering the scarcity of such crucial centers in the country,” she added.

Additionally, the Chairperson, of the Department of Educational Psychology (MMUST)- Dr. Khasakhala Edward Okaya, who is also the project’s coordinator, stressed that the education curriculum should include basic training on SCD to equip teacher-students with requisite skills to manage such cases in classrooms.


The Chairperson, of the Department of Educational Psychology- Dr. Khasakhala Edward Okaya making a presentation during the training.

Dr. Angeline Otieno of the International Development Boresha Jamii (UBJ) initiative elaborated on the need for parents to go for premarital genetic testing, stating that it is among the measures that can aid in early intervention and preparedness in matters of sickle cell anemia disease.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a genetic disorder affecting the red blood cells of an individual whereby, the cells become sickle-shaped preventing them from moving smoothly through the blood vessels. This then creates blockages that impair oxygen delivery to various tissues and organs of the body.

MMUST’s resolute devotion to creating awareness and demystifying the myths and misconceptions about SCD while offering medical support to the affected people cannot be overstated. This initiative therefore serves as a catalyst for change, inspiration, and empowerment towards a brighter future where SCD patients will feel valued and acknowledged.

By Linet Owuor, Caren Nekesa and Rhoda Mwikali

Photos by Shiundu Masafu

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