Prof Kwaku Ohene Frempong

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has celebrated Professor Ohene-Frempong, President of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Ghana, as the first civilian recipient of the Assistant Secretary of Health Exceptional Service Medal.

A statement issued and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra said he was awarded for his work in sickle cell disease management in the country.

Dr Brett P. Giroir, the Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, awarded him the Assistant Secretary of Health Exceptional Service Medal during a meeting of the Sickle Cell Disease Global Coalition Steering Committee.

It said the award was in recognition of the outstanding contribution of the physician in the fight against sickle cell disease across the world.

The civilian medal is awarded for exceptional achievement to the cause of public health and medicine.

Dr Giroir said: “Prof. Ohene-Frempong deserves this award many times over. I want this award to bring light to his singular accomplishments as a physician, scientist, and humanitarian.”

“His diligent advocacy, clinical expertise and visionary leadership serve as an inspiration for the Global Coalition and the sickle cell community.”

Prof Ohene-Frempong, in his response, said: “I am humbled by this award and accept it as an encouragement to continue our work on behalf of people with sickle cell disease”.

“This award is very meaningful not only because it recognises our work, but especially because it brings attention to people affected by a global disease that deserves more recognition and increased support.”

He said although the public health and personal issues of sickle cell remained inadequately addressed in many countries, especially in Africa, increasing organisational support and interest in development of new medicines and cure continued to give hope to people with the disease and their families.

Prof. Ohene-Frempong expressed appreciation for the award, saying, “I am grateful to Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir for this Award and I humbly accept it on behalf my mentors, colleagues, and people with sickle cell disease and their families who have taught me and contributed to any success achieved”.

The Physician has served on many professional organisations, boards, and committees dedicated to finding a cure for sickle cell.

He conducted important researches, including the first multi-centre clinical trial of hydroxyurea therapy in children with sickle cell in the United States.

Prof. Ohene-Frempong developed the first public health programme for screening new-borns for sickle cell disease in Africa with assistance from the Brazilian Government, which was later scaled up into a national programme.

He is now Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director Emeritus of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centre at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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