Fulbright Scholar answering the call to improve health care in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Cheedy Jaja, an alumnus of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Minority Health Fellowship program, is now implementing the three-prong intervention he outlined in his Fulbright award application:
- Training: Jaja designed a curriculum to train doctors and nurses to identify and manage children with sickle cell disease.
- Screening: Based on a successful two-month screening pilot program conducted in 2017, Jaja is partnering with four major government hospitals with maternity units (covering four of the country’s 12 regions) to establish newborn sickle cell screening as the standard of care. He is also educating communities about sickle cell disease to boost support for screening and combat falsehoods, such as the notion that the disease stems from involvement in witchcraft.
- Awareness: Jaja is working with political leaders to pass a bill recognizing sickle cell disease as a major public health problem (akin to HIV and malaria) to increase government funds for disease management. In addition, with support from College of Nursing dean Jeannette Andrews and Global Carolina, he is working to identify global health education initiatives and research partnership opportunities for College of Nursing faculty as well as clinical opportunities for students in Sierra Leone.