First Lady of Niger Visits Howard Sickle Cell Center in Search of Answers

WASHINGTON -- Dr. Malika Issoufou Mahamadou, the first lady of the Republic of Niger and president of the Tattali-Iyali Foundation, will visit the Howard University Center for Sickle Cell from noon to 2:30 p.m. Monday as she continues her efforts to upgrade health care for the citizens of her African nation.

Dr. Mahamadou will be greeted by Dr. Wayne Frederick, deputy vice president for Health Sciences, and Dr. Sheik N. Hassan, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Medicine, before being given a comprehensive tour of the center and a thorough explanation of its work.

Dr. Patricia O’Neal, a hematologist/oncologist in the Department of Medicine at Howard University Hospital and the College of Medicine and co-director of the center, will discuss with her excellency treatments for sickle cell disease in adults.  Dr. Sohail Rana, an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the hospital and college, will explain the disease in children.

Sergei Nekhai, Ph.D., a co-director at the center and director of the center’s research program, and Kareem Washington, Ph.D., an assistant professor of genetics in the College of Medicine, will discuss advancements in sickle cell research.

Dr. Seyed Mehdi Nouraie, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine in the College of Medicine and Howard University Hospital, will explain the center’s epidemiology and data analysis, and Barbara Harrison, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the College of Medicine and director of the center’s Community Outreach Program, will discuss efforts to educate residents in the Washington area and beyond.

As head of Tattali-Iyali Foundation, the first lady has been working to advance the organization’s vision for a better world for women, children and the underserved.

In Niger, 59.5 percent of the people live below the poverty line. Life expectancy is 54 years for males and 56 for women. Statistics show that in Niger a woman dies every two hours while pregnant or after delivery and at the same time, six newborns die and 30 women become disabled as a result of obstetrical complications.
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