World Sickle Cell Day is celebrated across world on June 19, 2018. The Sickle Cell Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 in order to increase the awareness about the sickle cell disease and its cure among the common public
Sickle Cell disease is an inheritable, genetic and fatal disease causing red blood cells disorders which has been classified as sickle cell anaemia and may lead to death. It is the most common public health problem in the African and Asian countries of the world. Sickle cell disease is a disease in which the hemoglobin in one’s blood clumps together, causing red blood cells to become abnormally shaped. While healthy blood cells are normally round, in someone with this disease, they are C-shaped, like a sickle, and don’t flow properly.
Dr Surekha Devi A, says, “Sickle cells are sticky and block blood flow in vessels, which not only puts patients at risk of stroke, it causes intense pain. Still, there has been so little research on sickle cell disease that it is difficult even to write evidence-based protocols. The hallmark of the disease is what are called painful vaso-occlusive crisis, where patients have significant bone pain requiring hospitalization and a lot of pain medications. There has been improvement is treatments. As recently as 30 years ago, the average lifespan for people with sickle cell disease was only 14 years. Today, life expectancy can reach 42 and beyond.”
“We’ve made strides in the last 20 years, particularly with a drug called hydroxyurea,” she says.
“The medication increases production of fetal hemoglobin, which reduces the chance that red blood cells will morph into sickles. While it doesn’t work for everyone, in some, it can reduce hospitalizations. By taking this medication on a daily basis, we can ameliorate the patient for certain period,” Dr Sukehha Devi said, “and in some patients, they simply stop having these painful episodes.”
The early screening might safeguard the patients from suffering from permanent kidney damage, stroke or other chronic conditions due to delayed diagnosis and in turn, delayed medical intervention.
Sickle cells die quickly, which causes the constant shortage of red blood cells known as ‘Anemia’. While that aspect of the disease leaves patients feeling exhausted, for many, the most difficult part is the episodes of debilitating discomfort.
Sickle cell disease has become a common and foremost genetic disease worldwide which can be cured through the fast awareness campaign, curable activities, early diagnosis and management.