Cameroonian alumnus Tchofor Dick Nchang ’18 is doing incredible work in the healthcare sector with his organization, the Sickle Cell International Foundation. Nchang describes himself as a curious, ‘ruthless optimist’ whose life’s mission (one of many, in fact) is to bridge the gap in quality healthcare across societies on the African continent – and at age 20, he’s already off to a powerful start.
Diagnosed at age 2 with Sickle Cell, a degenerative disease that affects the flow of oxygen in the body, much of Nchang’s life was riddled with excruciating pain. It was not until 2016 when he underwent a successful bone marrow transplant (a risky and expensive procedure that is currently the most reliable cure to Sickle Cell), and was confined to bed rest for two years afterwards, that he began to think about the implications of access to quality healthcare, and how he could play a role in helping others. “In early 2017 I realised how privileged I was to be able to fly overseas and afford such expensive medical treatment, knowing that it’s not everyone who can afford this. This is what prompted me to see how I could reach out to the next person and support them in any way I can. One person became two people, and before I knew it, we were building communities,” he says.
To date, Nchang’s foundation has supported over 100 patients and their families by saving them over $60 000 in medical expenses. This was made possible through various partnerships and support from organizations such as Turkish Airlines, Maco Rentals, support from one of Cameroon’s best hospitals, as well as an acknowledgement from Melinda Gates. The overall aim of the organization is to reduce the global impact of Sickle Cell by providing care, building communities, and advancing research in the field.
Much of the facilitation that has gone towards propelling the foundation was done while Nchang was at ALA – making it his first school experience after his bone marrow transplant. This, he says, made his time at ALA incredibly worthwhile, despite minor health challenges. At ALA, he served as Student government chair, ran a successful student enterprise, and recorded the highest class attendance he has ever had in his academic career.
So, what’s next for Nchang? He is determined to propel the Sickle Cell International Foundation to greater heights and continue to raise awareness, address the stigma around the disease, and help patients access affordable healthcare and fund research. He is also preparing for university next year where he hopes to study Health and Societies, Economics and Maths. Ultimately, he has his sights set on a masters in public health and business administration, where he hopes to merge his passions: health and entrepreneurship.
We wish him all the best in his endeavours!
Want to connect with the foundation? Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect.