Local MP David Lammy steps out for sickle cell and thalassaemia
Local MP David Lammy (Tottenham) joined staff and patients at the George Marsh Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre on Friday 14 September. The visit formed part of an open day at the centre offering the community a chance to find out more about sickle cell and related diseases such as thalassaemia.
Helping to raise awareness of the diseases and the importance of being tested, Mr Lammy met with the team of experts and patients of the centre to hear from them first hand about their experiences.
Sickle cell is one of the most commonly inherited genetic diseases in England – around 12,500 people have the disease and there are an estimated 240,000 carriers.
Around 700 people are affected by thalassaemia major with an estimated 214,000 carriers.
Mr Lammy said:
“It was great to see the team at the George Marsh Centre in action. They provide wonderful support for people living with sickle cell and thalassaemia in Tottenham. Sadly, public awareness of these diseases is often limited or based on misunderstandings. In London alone, about 200 babies a year are identified as having sickle cell disease or thalassaemia, including many of my constituents. I am delighted to be able to lend my support and would encourage people to get tested for these diseases before they start to think about having a family.”
Dr Allison Streetly, Programme Director for the Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme comments:
“We have come a long way since the Programme was started in 2001. Newborn screening for sickle cell is now offered to all babies born in England and we are well on our way to offering antenatal screening to all pregnant women in England too. This is a huge achievement by the NHS and its staff but there is still much to be done to increase awareness and improve understanding of the diseases.”
“Sickle cell and thalassaemia largely affect black and minority ethnic groups, but because they are genetic, they can in fact, affect anyone. England is now a diverse and culturally very rich society, and so the susceptibility of a person to have these diseases is more difficult to predict. Everyone needs to consider screening for these diseases.”