Sickle Cell Society 30th Anniversary
Archbishop supports Sickle Cell Society 30th anniversary as UN recognises international significance of disease. Reverend Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, who co-hosted the reception and is chair of the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme comments:
"I congratulate the Sickle Cell Society sincerely as it celebrates World Sickle Cell Day. Their work has been invaluable in providing better care and tackling serious health inequalities in the UK. When you consider that even 10 years ago, never mind 30, many clinicians had no understanding of this disease it is astonishing to see what the Society has achieved. I am pleased that sickle cell disease is finally getting the recognition it deserves as a serious genetic disease affecting a great number of people worldwide."
With 13,500 patients and 240,000 carriers, sickle cell is one of the most common genetic conditions in the UK. About 350 babies are diagnosed with the disease every year, making the disease even more common than cystic fibrosis in England.
Dr Jane Wai-Ogosu, Chairperson of the Sickle Cell Society adds:
"The adoption of the UN resolution demonstrates how far we have come since the Society was founded 30 years ago. Lacking experience and knowledge of a disease which had not been seen to and extent in England, understanding of the disease was non-existent in 1979 and screening was not even thought of. World Sickle Cell Day will help us reach out to a wider audience and address the stigma surrounding this serious condition. There are still great challenges to meet so it’s wonderful to have this chance to remember how far we have come."
Dr Allison Streetly, Director of the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme, comments:
"Here in England, we are fortunate to have a nationwide linked antenatal and newborn screening programme in place. I am hopeful that UN recognition will not only raise awareness of sickle cell as a significant public health issue but will make our approach, a world first, best practice. We have already consulted with countries as diverse as Holland and Nigeria in implementing similar policies."
World Sickle Cell Day – June 19th
About the United Nations Resolution:
On 22 December 2008, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/63/L63 that recognises sickle cell disease as a public health problem and "one of the world’s foremost genetic diseases." The resolution calls for member States and the organizations of the United Nations system to raise awareness of sickle-cell anemia on June 19th of each year at the national and international level.