June 19, 2020

Kilifi, Kenya: Dr Sophie Uyoga, a research fellow under the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL) based at the KEMRI-Wellcome Research Trust Programme in Kilifi, has today joined the rest of the world in marking the World Sickle Cell Day with the launch of ‘The Sickle Cell Heroes’ Comic Book. The book seeks to highlight the social issues and challenges that people living with sickle cell undergo.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is an inherited red blood cell disorder that results in the formation of abnormal haemoglobin. Over 300,000 children are born with SCD every year with most births occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Sickle Cell Heroes is not only meant to highlight the experiences of the affected families but also answer some of the questions that the patients/parents grapple with. I wanted the message to be communicated in a way that would be entertaining to the younger patients,” commented Dr Uyoga.

The comic book is inspired by real-life events of young people from Kilifi County in Kenya who are living with sickle cell disease. The four stories capture the myths, misconceptions as well as the success stories around people living with SCD. Their life experiences are a reflection of the persistent challenges that most children living with sickle cell undergo. The sickle cell comic book, a first of its kind on the continent, embraces a child-friendly style of communicating about sickle cell disease and aims to help the community understand challenges faced by children and their caregivers as well as appreciate the role of research in finding better treatments for the disease.

“The World Sickle Cell Day is a day set aside to raise awareness on sickle cell disease and we hope the comic book will raise the needed awareness at the local and national level and a rallying call to governments to integrate SCD prevention and control in national health plans,” added Dr Uyoga.

The comic book was funded through the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) DELTAS Africa Community and Public Engagement (CPE) seed fund. DELTAS Africa — the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science — is a US$100 million programme of the AAS supporting the Africa-led development of world-class researchers and scientific leaders in Africa.

“This project is part of our efforts to promote public participation in science, which in turn ensures science is responsive to local, national and continental needs while building trust and understanding,” Lillian Mutengu, Community and Public Engagement Manager for the African Academy of Sciences.

To access the comic book in both English and Kiswahili visit: