Sharifu Kiragga Tusuubira’s name means “we hope,” which is exactly what he brings to communities across Uganda in his efforts to reduce the stigma regarding sickle cell disease. Sharifu believes awareness is key to making their society more inclusive and providing better care for those affected.
As the executive director of the Uganda Sickle Cell Rescue Foundation, Sharifu understands the challenges and stigma surrounding the disease from firsthand experience, having been born with sickle cell and having faced discrimination from family and peers throughout his life.
His organization’s main objective is to better educate the population and change the misconceptions that perpetuate the mistreatment of sickle cell patients. By providing psychological services, engaging in family empowerment projects and advocating throughout the country, Sharifu is helping reshape the way Ugandan society acknowledges and cares for individuals with sickle cell disease.
Partnerships have been essential for his organization’s groundbreaking impact. Sharifu has also been able to network with other organizations working in sickle cell advocacy in other African countries through the YALI Network.
He encourages other entrepreneurs to start immediately when they have an idea of how to make a positive difference in their community: “If you’re passionate about anything, just start up. Just start, even if you’re one person; along the way you’ll build and be able to grow it. You just have to start … Do not wait for anything. Just start.”
Listen below for more on advocacy as a means of social inclusion and how to make an impact on a health issue affecting your community.