World Sickle Cell Day: 250 Million People Affected Globally

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The Nigerian Orthopaedic Association says an estimated 250 million people across the world are currently suffering from Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).

Its President, Dr Kunle Olawepo, made this known in a statement on Friday to commemorate the 2020 World Sickle Cell Day.

Olawepo said that according to the United Nations, an estimated 300,000 people were born every year with Sickle Cell Disease.

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He explained that sickle cell disease is a commonly occurring genetic disease, inherited and found worldwide and could severely endanger the life of the patient.

“World Sickle Cell Day is celebrated on the 19th of June every year; a day recognised by the United Nations.

“It is an international awareness day observed with the goal to increase public knowledge and an understanding of SCD, its treatment and the challenges experienced by patients, their families and caregivers.

“The day is celebrated to improve treatment outcomes of SCD through early diagnosis.

“Governments, Non-Governmental Organisations, doctors, health workers and support groups come together to find strategies to eliminate the sickle cell disease,” he said.

Olawepo defined SCD as “a group of inherited red blood cell disorders”.

He further said that over time, people with SCD could experience damage to organs such as the liver, kidney, lungs, heart and spleen.

“SCD affects 250 million people around the world. People living with SCD are in the extremely vulnerable group and have to shield during the coronavirus pandemic.

“SCD is particularly common in individuals in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Central America, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, India, and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece and Italy but predominantly affects people from African and Caribbean backgrounds.

“SCD is caused by an abnormality in one of the two chains that make up the red pigment (haemoglobin) in the red blood cells.

“SCD is inherited from both parents; sickle cell trait is inherited from one parent,” he said.

He, however, called for pre-marital genetic counselling, discouraging carriers of the Sickle Cell trait from marrying one another.

Olawepo advocated quick government intervention for SCD patients for optimal care.

He also called on members of the public to donate a pint of blood as SCD could require a blood transfusion at some point in their lives; sometimes as an emergency life-saving procedure.

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