First Lady of Niger Seeks Answers on Sickle Cell Disease from Howard Experts
WASHINGTON -- Dr. Malika Issoufou Mahamadou, the first lady of the Republic
of Niger and president of the Tattali-Iyali Foundation, met with doctors and
other clinicians with the Howard University Center for Sickle Cell Monday as
part of her continuous effort to upgrade health care for the citizens of her
Dr. Mahamadou, who was greeted by Dr. Mark S. Johnson, dean of the College
of Medicine, and Dr. Sheik N. Hassan, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs
in the college, listened intently during the numerous presentations, interrupting
speakers periodically to ask questions through her French-speaking translator.
Sergei Nekhai, Ph.D., a co-director at the center and director of the center’s
research program, gave an explanation about sickle cell treatment overall and
at Howard University and discussed advancements in sickle cell research.
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, told her Excellency about treatments for sickle cell disease in
Dr. Seyed Mehdi Nouraie, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of
Medicine in the College of Medicine and Howard University Hospital, explained
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, discussed 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.
Sickle cell disease affects about 10 percent of Niger’s population.
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