World Sickle Cell Awareness Day
Since 2008, World Sickle Cell Awareness Day has been held annually, in order to help increase public knowledge and raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and the struggles sufferers and their families go through.
The date 19th of June was chosen to commemorate the day on which a resolution was officially adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, recognising SCD as a public health concern.
Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is a genetic blood disorder that affects the haemoglobin within the red blood cells. The recurrent pain and complications caused by the disease can interfere with many aspects of the patient’s life, including education, employment and psychosocial development.
SCD affects millions of people around the world, including both adults and children. It is a potentially fatal disease and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in various African countries. Across countries such as India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Southern Italy, Greece Turkey, the numbers are also alarming showing this to be a major public health issue.
Researches have shown that Nigeria has the largest population of people with Sickle Cell Disease in the world, with over 150,000 babies born with the serious condition every year.
Presently, there is no cure for SCD. However, cost-effective treatment exists for the pain and other aspects of the disease. The most important components of this treatment are early intervention with analgesics, antibiotics, rest, good nutrition, folic acid supplementation and high fluid intake. At times, invasive procedures such as blood transfusions and surgery may be needed.