It is with great pleasure that we announce GASCDO’s new President and Chief Executive Officer(C.E.O). Ms Lwimba Kasongo. Lwimba is based in Zambia, Africa.
Lwimba, herself a sickle cell patient/warrior, She is a global SCD advocate and volunteered with GASCDO on the Communication Committee for 3 years, prior to this appointment. She has also worked with other local and international Organizations to help progress the sickle cell agenda.
We wish to extend our congratulations to Ms Kasongo on her appointment and warmly welcome her to the GASCDO team. We are confident that under her leadership our organization will soar to new heights and the board looks forward to working with her to achieve the organization’s mission.
Issa Ibn Abrahim Ali hails from the Caribbean, the Twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He started his professional career as a licensed/registered pharmacist in the public health sector and later moved to being CEO (Pharmacy Manager) in the private sector. This International Master of Business Administration (Health Management) holder has been the President of the Society for Inherited and Severe Blood Disorders Trinidad and Tobago Ltd.) (SISBDTT) (Hemophilia; Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Disease) for the past eight years. Championing and advocating for persons living with inherited and severe blood disorders inclusive of Sickle Cell Disease, has become his life cause. In his capacity as President, he has represented SISBDTT at several International Conferences, namely hosted by internationally recognized organizations like the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) and the Thalassemia International Federation (TIF).
Some of the highlight landmark achievements of the SISBDTT under the leadership of Issa includes:
8 successful Annual Walkathons; the organization’s largest social; fundraiser and awareness event.
SISBTT International Inherited Blood Disorders Symposium (2017) held in Trinidad and Tobago. “What was, What is, What will be”. Featured Speakers included Dr. Wayne Fredrick (President of Howard University, USA); Prof. Isaac Odame (Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, Canada); Prof. Kwaku Frempong (Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, USA); Prof. Antonio Piga (Professor of Pediatrics, Torino University, Italy); Prof. Magareth Ozelo ( Assistant Professor, Dept. of Internal Medicine, University of Campinas, Brazil) and Prof. Suthat Fucharoen (Professor Emeritus, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand).
Execution of Universal Newborn Screening for Sickle Cell Disease at the Port of Spain General Hospital, T&T (2018). Historic Achievement, 1st time executed in the history of Trinidad.
Initiation of the Southwest Regional Health Authority (SWRHA)/SISBDTT Haematology Outpatient Treatment Room for Inherited Blood Disorders inclusive of Sickle Cell Disease at the San Fernando General Hospital. (2020). 1st of its kind for patients of south Trinidad.
Issa has been inspired to serve the Inherited Blood Disorder Community by his mentor the late internationally renowned Consultant Haematologist Dr. Waveney Patricia Charles. Issa’s vision for the international sickle cell community is aligned with GASCDO’s vision and that is to ensure a reduction in the global incidence of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) as well as to ensure that there is equitable access to optimal care and treatment by all persons living with SCD globally.
Biba Tinga is the President/Executive Director of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada/Association d’anémie falciforme du Canada (SCDAC/AAFC).
As a parent of an adult living with sickle cell disease, she has a unique understanding of the needs of the children and families dealing with the disease.
She brings a wealth of experience and a lifelong dedication to improving conditions for those living with sickle cell disease.
For more than 10 years, she has leveraged her experience in advocating for new drugs, the risks associated with the lack of treatment options and efforts to implement strategies to better advocate on behalf of families.
She is a working mother and a tireless advocate for the Black community.
She proudly sits on the board of directors of GASCDO to put her lifelong experience at the service of the global community.
Gavin worked for fifteen years as the senior marketer at England’s NHS Blood and Transplant with responsibility for all matters relating to the recruitment, retention and management of a donor base approaching 2 million individuals. At NHSBT he was also involved in growing the UK’s organ donor register to 19 million registrants as well as recruiting bone marrow and tissue donors. During this time, he served on the board and as president of the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals.
Since 2012 he has been Executive Director of Global Blood Fund, a US-based non-profit that mobilizes blood donors, collection organizations and industry suppliers within the blood-banking community to help support blood services in low-HDI countries. In this role he has led activities to support sickle cell disease patients in Nigeria and DRC and efforts to improve public understanding of the disorder.
Extending his interests in recruitment-related activities, Gavin has been an advisor to an organization promoting altruistic kidney donation and is also currently on the board of a UK-based fertility charity. He has an MBA from Henley Business School and writes and speaks regularly on donor-related issues.
René is currently the Vice President of the Society for Inherited and Severe Blood Disorders Trinidad and Tobago Limited (SISBDTT) having served in this capacity since January, 2020. The SISBDTT is the oldest parent/patient support group in existence in Trinidad and Tobago which advocates for people affected not only with sickle cell disease but all inherited blood disorders such as Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Von Willebrand disease. René has previously served on the SISBDTT Board as Secretary from 2018 and Asst. Secretary from 2004 – 2017. As a member of the board for so many years she has been heavily involved in the following:
Planning committee for the SISBDTT’s Annual Walkathon, the largest fundraising and awareness event
Planning committee for a 3-day Medical Symposium for inherited blood disorders in March 2017 with renowned experts including Prof. Isaac Odame, Prof. Kwaku Ohene-Frempong and Prof. Suchat Fucharoen.
Preparing designs for events and activities etc. such as t-shirts, medals, educational brochures, posters/flyers, newspaper ads, and social media communications
Preparing correspondence to Ministers of Health, the Chief Medical Officer, Board members of Regional Health Authorities, corporate sponsors and other stakeholders
Managing and updating membership records
Managing the use of online tools to enhance the efficiency of communications
René has worked in the graphic design industry for approximately 15 years. She successfully pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design, graduating from the College of Science, Technology & Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT)’s Ken Gordon School of Journalism and Communication Studies in 2015 with Honours (Magna Cum Laude) and was the valedictorian.
As a sickle cell warrior herself, René understands the importance of the patient’s voice and knowledge about the condition in successfully advocating for the global SCD community. René is also currently pursuing an online Diploma in Advocacy from the Catholic University of Salta, Argentina which was facilitated through the SISBDTT’s relationship with Roche Pharmaceuticals.
Ade Sawyerr Vice Chair of GASCDO & Co-Chair of the Governance Committee
Ade Sawyerr is a principal of Equinox Consulting, a management consultancy that focuses on equality, diversity and inclusion issues in Britain. His work is focused on promoting economic, social and political advancement amongst members of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic and other disadvantaged and excluded communities in Britain. He is a community and communications engagement specialist who provides consultancy, training and research services to help solve seemingly intractable issues and to help design resilient communities,
Over the past 38 years, he has worked on projects that have given him an excellent insight into economic, social, educational, health and other welfare issues within the captive ethnic minorities communities and the need for advocacy organisations to minimise the inequalities they face in access and delivery of services.
Ade has served on the boards of voluntary organisations including grassroots support organisations and has been a trustee of some facilitating organisations. He has designed and delivered management development training to voluntary organisations and provided advice guidance and workshops on strategy when developing their business and delivery plans.
He has a good understanding of the duties of how boards operate the role to provide leadership, set strategic policy, undertake a supervisory role for the organisation and be the main accountable body that ensures that the work of charity organisations is carried out to meet the objectives and to protect the assets of the organisation.
Ade’s background qualifications are in Business Management. After obtaining a BSc.Administration degree in Management in Ghana, he worked in different job roles in banking, systems analysis and management of small businesses. Before emigrating to the UK to complete a full-time MBA programme at Alliance Manchester Business School in 1982.
Ade Sawyerr is also a community activist, cultural enthusiast and a political and social commentator who writes an occasional blog that is a collection of thought-provoking, thought-leadership pieces sprinkled with some blue-sky thinking on pertinent issues affecting African communities both in the diaspora and at home. It includes articles on culture, politics, social and economic advancement, diversity and inclusion, community cohesion topics. It is also a repository of the political history of Ghana, traditions of the Gadagme people of Ghana, and the Pan-African politics of Kwame Nkrumah
Gautam Dongre Member of the Governance Committee & Chair of the Membership Committee
Gautam Dongre is the founder member of National Alliance of Sickle Cell Organization. Gautam holds master’s degree in social science and has worked as sales executive in healthcare companies in past. Gautam is father of two children living with sickle cell disease. With two children with sickle cell disease he has to leave his full job and he decided to take social work and advocacy work as a full time engagement.
Gautam has been working as a volunteer for last one decade with Sickle Cell Society of India, one of the oldest organizations in the country and along with a group of advocates he took lead in forming India’s first alliance organization NASCO in year 2020.
Gautam represents NASCO at various national level taskforce and committees and has been leading advocacy efforts. Gautam along with executive members of NASCO has been instrumental in organizing some very impactful events with participation of diverse stakeholders. Gautam has been raising voice for mainstreaming SCD in ongoing health issues and ensuring rights of persons living with SCD is protected. He has been mentoring state level SCD organizations along with his core team to empower voice of Sickle cell disease across the country. Gautam has been actively engaging with medical experts at National and international level to bring issues of patients and caregivers and to strengthen the ecosystem of SCD care.
Gautam envisage a world where every person with sickle cell lives a quality life with dignity with equitable access to healthcare services. He is passionate to see a future where no new birth with Sickle cell takes place
Regina Hartfield Member of the Communication Committee
Regina Hartfield is CEO and president of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. Hartfield served on the association’s board of directors for three years, including as chair of the fundraising committee. Previously, she managed federal, state and commercial contracts for CVP, an information technology consulting firm in Virginia and Maryland. Hartfield was a community affairs professional in the nonprofit arena in New York for more than 25 years where she gained experience as a leader in nonprofit organizations. She graduated with honors from Lehman College of the City University of New York with a Bachelor of Arts in community outreach.
Dr. Kevin Kuo is an adult haematologist and clinician-investigator in the Red Blood Cell Disorders Program at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, Associate Professor in the Division of Haematology at the University of Toronto, and Assistant Professor (status) at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto. His clinical focus is on rare congenital haemolytic anaemias and his research focuses on the impact of sickle cell disease on neurocognition, novel therapies in haemoglobinopathies and rare anaemias, and non-chelating methods to treat and prevent iron overload.
Prof. Salam Al Kindi Chair of the Scientific Committee
Salam Al Kindi
Following my graduation from Trinity college- Dublin Ireland, in 1993, I have completed my general medicine as well as haematology/oncology training in Dublin, Ireland and Fred Hutch cancer centre in Seattle USA, where I did my training in Bone marrow transplant. In 1999 I have joined Sultan Qaboos University and in 2005 I was appointed as head of department of haematology for 10 years. Previously also I held the position of deputy director of Sultan Qaboos university hospital for clinical affairs (clinical director) for 5 years. Research interests include sickle cell disease,chronic leukaemia and autoimmune disorders with over 100 articles published in international peer reviewed journals including NEJM, haematologica, and blood. I am the founder of the Oman hereditary blood disorders association, and the current deputy chairman.