Sickle Cell Disease is the world’s most common genetic blood disorder and while it is treatable, it affects hundreds of thousands of babies each year, many of whom will not live to their fifth birthday. World Sickle Cell Day aims to share information about the disease, improve research, and provide hope and help for families who need it.
History of World Sickle Cell Day
Since 2008, World Sickle Cell 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 was chosen to commemorate the day on which a resolution was officially adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, recognizing Sickle Cell Disease as a public health concern.
Previously referred to as Sickle Cell Anemia, this blood disease 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.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observes World Sickle Cell Day by raising awareness about the disease while highlighting pertinent information and resources for people who have SCD.
Sickle Cell Disease is marked by red blood cells that are shaped like a C or a “sickle”. These unhealthy cells die early and cause a shortage of healthy red blood cells, which creates many health problems. There is hope, however, as children who are born with SCD in places where medical care is available have a very strong likelihood of living a healthy and normal life.
While SCD is the cause of many deaths throughout the world, the disease is not contagious and can even be completely cured in some patients. However, the cure involves a very complicated bone marrow transplant procedure, which can be very risky and also too expensive for many who have the disease.
World Sickle Cell Day is here to promote correct information about this disease, including its cause and treatment. A more informed and educated public can help to improve care and prevent deaths – which is the hope and the reason for observing World Sickle Cell Day!
How to Observe World Sickle Cell Day
Get involved with being part of the solution by raising awareness and becoming more informed about Sickle Cell Disease. Try out some of these ways of observing World Sickle Cell Day:
Attend a World Sickle Cell Day Event
In observance of World Sickle Cell Day, some health groups that are dedicated to Sickle Cell Disease support or treatment will hold special educational celebrations. Check with local health care providers or medical educators to find out how to get involved with supporting charities and foundations that offer help to those with Sickle Cell Disease. Attend a lecture, take the kids to a school event or find other ways to show support for the day.
Learn More About Sickle Cell Disease
Those who are not able to attend an event held in honor of World Sickle Cell Day might want to spend the day researching the illness, learning about the signs and symptoms and increasing their understanding of its global impact.
Here are some important facts about Sickle Cell Disease to get started with and perhaps share to raise awareness for the day:
A child inherits Sickle Cell Disease when they receive the gene from both sides, one gene from each parent.
Those who only inherit one gene don’t get the disease, but they do get the Sickle Cell Trait (SCT), which can then be passed on to any biological children they have.
Anemia is a common effect of SCD, often sending children to the emergency department of their hospital several times a year. Severe anemia can be treated with a blood transfusion.