Sickle Cell Anaemia News from De Montfort University

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A sickle cell anaemia project collaboration between the University of Ibadan (UI) in Nigeria and De Montfort University (DMU) has led to the development of a health promotion computer game, to teach children about sickle cell disease.

The collaboration involves Professor Howell Istance from the Centre for Computational Intelligence at DMU, Yetunde Folajimi of UI’s Department of Computer Science, and Dr Viv Rolfe and Professor Simon Dyson from the School of Allied Health Science also at DMU. Viv and Simon are also involved in the SCOOTER project sharing open educational resources to support sickle cell education around the globe.

Dr Yetunde Folajimi

Sickle cell anaemia is a common genetic disorder where red blood cells become sickle-shaped during stressful events, and manifest as a sickle cell crisis. This is extremely painful and damaging, and sickle cell is particularly prevalent in Africa, with 25% of adults in Nigeria reported to have the sickle cell trait. Sickle cell anaemia is also common in the UK, and one of the open educational resources produced by Professor Dyson included a guide to school policy for children with sickle cell disease and thalassaemia (Guide for Schools, Available http://www.sicklecellanaemia.org/teaching-resources/resources/scooter24-29/scooter25.html).

It was an aim of Yetunde’s project to produce a game to inform children of some of the stressful events such as dehydration or extremes in temperature, that can trigger a crisis. Yetunde was funded by the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship scheme and visited the UK over the summer. In the game, the main character – a red blood cell – has to be kept as healthy as possible by avoiding the potential stressors and hazards. Piloting the game with children was successful and the team now need to make sure that the health messages are clearly conveyed and that the game performs its function.

Yetunde has now returned to Nigeria and will continue improving the game and testing it on local children. Such innovations are vital to promote health advice to children, their families and friends both in the UK and Africa to raise awareness of sickle cell anaemia.

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