World Sickle Cell Day: Let’s Raise Sickle Cell Disease Awareness on June 19

 

World Sickle Cell Day was set aside to be celebrated on 19th of June every year and this was established by the general assembly of the United Nations in 2008. This day was established to raise awareness on the sickle cell disease because very few people know about it globally. World Sickle Cell Day was first celebrated in 2009 on the 19th of June. Research has shown that sickle cell disease is the most common genetic condition globally and it is common in four continents namely sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, America and southern part of Europe. Studies indicate that approximately half a million children are born with sickle cell and 50% of this number die before they reach five years. The important frameworks for partnership and cooperation will help in setting concrete actions that should be supported by partnerships that are strengthened at international, regional and national levels. The agencies that are actively involved in advocating for World Sickle Cell Day are UNESCO, WHO, assistance foundation of Congo and the sickle cell disease international organization (SCDIO).

What is Sickle Cell Disease?

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is a genetic disease that is inherited affecting the red blood cells in the body and it can be fatal leading to death in most cases. Sickle cell anemia is a type of anemia where the patient has a reduced number of hemoglobin. The patient will have red blood cells that are sickle cell in shape and therefore not able to carry blood to varied parts of the body.

Symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease

  • Anemia
  • Pain especially in the joints
  • Hand foot syndrome
  • Frequent infections
  • Delayed growth

Causes of Sickle Cell Disease

  • Genetic predisposition

Treatment of Sickle Cell Disease

The treatment will depend with the presenting symptoms of the patient:

Prevention

The precaution taken aims at preventing complications. This can be done by:

  • Blood transfusion to treat anemia
  • Antibiotics to prevent infections
  • Pain medicines
  • Rehydration

Purpose of World Sickle Cell Day

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  • The purpose of celebrating World Sickle Cell Day is to raise awareness on the fatal disease so that the situation can be controlled and deaths can be prevented. This day is celebrated every year and this is done through active participation of health funding agencies, government organizations, health organizations and other non-governmental organizations.
  • The celebration of this day helps to give courage to the public and support the people who are suffering from this condition and it aims at removing the social stigma associated with the condition.
  • World Sickle Cell Day is focused on implementing health programs that can be used in screening patients so that early diagnosis can be made.
  • The new patients are encouraged to get immunizations and to be aware of the comprehensive packages of care.
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One of the key agencies supporting this day, WHO has made a commitment to promote the awareness of sickle cell disease through:

  • Increasing the awareness of sickle cell disease as a major health issue globally
  • Ensuring that people who live in communities all over the world are aware of the disease
  • Removing all stigma and myths that are associated with the condition
  • Encouraging the member countries to have health programs that are established so that treatment can be easily accessible to all
  • Promoting accessibility of medical services and technical support for all patients suffering from sickle cell
  • Ensuring that all medical personnel’s are well trained in the care of patients suffering from sickle cell and they are able to use the available resources to prevent complications
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What can be done on World Sickle Cell Day?

Some of the activities that can be done in celebration of this day include:

  • Encourage people to donate blood for the patients suffering from sickle cell
  • Creation of awareness surveys for community members
  • Creating a platform where presentations are done on the diseases causes, management, treatment and prevention
  • Coming up with educational programs that can take place at the community level
  • Creation of mobile clinics where free testing and checkups can be done
  • The other activities that can be used to relay information concerning the disease include posters, health talks; quiz competitions, social media like Face book and other websites,

Message shared on World Sickle Cell Day

  • The message will include raising awareness of the disease so that people can be aware of the causes, management, treatment and the prevention
  • The community members are encouraged to go for checkups so that early diagnosis can be done as this makes it easier to manage the disease and prevent complications
  • People are encouraged to donate blood as most patient suffering from sickle cell disease may require blood transfusion
  • The patients suffering from sickle cell are encouraged to form support grouped where they can share the challenges associated with the disease

Conclusion

World Sickle Cell Day is a day set aside annually to raise awareness on the sickle cell disease. People are encouraged to go for regular checkups as early diagnosis helps in prevention of complications. The condition is genetic and therefore precaution is taken to prevent complications.

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Author

Expert Author : Syeda Kiran Zahra Hussain (Consumer Health Digest)

Syeda Kiran Zahra Hussain is a Pakistan origin health writer and nutritionist. After her basic education in Pakistan she moved to Oman for further studies and became "the First-Health Coach from the Sultanate". She is graduate of Psychology, Philosophy and English Literature, and was also nominated for "Full-Bright Scholarship Program," from St. Joseph College for women. Syeda is our lead contributing News Editor and she believes "Food is the best form of Preventive-Medicine".