When I was a kid we didn’t have digital video technology. You couldn’t film a news item at 5:30 and have it on the 6 o’clock news – unless it was live. Film had to be developed and edited. So on the 6 o’clock news you would often get the first cut of the story and then be told by the newsreader: ‘film at 11’. That’s kind of how I feel today. Yesterday we got the story. I am now waiting for the film at 11.
We spent yesterday with the people at the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania here is Dar es Salaam. The whole team was there. We interviewed Drs. Julie Makani, Deo Soka and Edward Kija. We visited the research labs. We had the opportunity to visit with a mother and her 4 year old child, who suffers from the disease. And we witnessed first hand the need for a dedicated day patient treatment centre.
Our goal is to use the Tour d’Afrique as an opportunity to create awareness of the disease, which is particularly prevalent in African countries that have a high incedence of malaria – Tanzania has the 4th highest number of people suffering form sickle cell disease in the world – and to raise US$50,000 to build and equip a 12 bed day treatment centre for sickle cell sufferers in Tanzania.
In Tanzania up to 11,000 children are born every year with this inherited disease. Due to lack of treatment as many as 90% of them will die before they are two. With early diagnosis and treatment they can expect to live a much longer life. Some live productive lives to the age of 60. At the moment sickle cell patients are treated at a general purpose clinic at the Muhimbili hospital only two days a week. A dedicated day treatment centre, open every day, could potentially increase treatment capacity by over 500%.
I was very fortunate to have some expert help filming the work of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania. Denise Donlon, the Canadian broadcaster, was in Tanzania after having just filmed a documentary for War Child in northern Uganda on access to justice. She directed the day’s filming and did the interviewing. Chris Morgan, an experienced South African documentary film maker recently moved to Tanzania after having spent the last 5 years living in and filming documentaries in Nigeria. Chris did all the filming and will do the editing.
Both Denise and Chris contributed their time and expertise for nothing. I can’t thank them enough.
We hope to have a short film finished and up on this blog by July 11 – and instructions on how to donate. Look for it.