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History has it that the United Nations designated June 19th as World Sickle Cell Awareness Day in 2008 to recognize the disease as a public health problem and to promote education about its genetic condition.
For over one decade, governments under the UN have been creating awareness and educating the masses on the need for all and sundry to be aware of the disorder, and see ways to mitigate it.
Unlike the traditional beliefs that children with SCD are either possessed or are punishments by parents for their wrongdoings, It is important to note that the Sickle Cell Disorder is a genetic disease that affects red blood cells, causing them to stiffen and stick together, obstructing blood flow and causing pain and tissue damage.
Across the globe, coalitions and non-governmental organizations take the red walk yearly to commemorate this day, and this is done in line with the theme.
The theme for the 2022 event is “Sickle Cell Disorder: The Importance of Self-Care”, therefore, we are calling on patients with SCD, parents whose children have SCD to take care of themselves and their wards who are living with the disorder. We crave the indulgence of the parents to be patient in taking proper care of them, and patients who have come of age should endeavor to know their boundaries as they live their daily lives, bearing in mind that the Sickle Cell Disorder is not a death sentence.
Again, we call on the government, health agencies, and financial institutions to work together to eliminate the stigma associated with sickle cell disease and to provide financial opportunities for patients to obtain jobs and health insurance.
We also advocate for affordable healthcare for people living with the condition and also remind the government that the Sickle Cell Bill has been in the works since 2015 and should be given attention and allow it to pass its third reading in the National Assembly so that high premiums on Sickle Cell Care can be reduced.
Not just the above, but we also urge Our educational system to allow patients who must be hospitalized for extended periods to take their exams outside of the classroom.
Then, we want offices to understand that not everyone can sit in an air-conditioned environment from morning to night, so providing a more accommodating environment or even office blankets for people with this disorder will greatly assist.
Sickle Cell Disorder can be reduced if there is early detection and immediate treatment.
We, therefore, urge people living with the disorder not to see it as a death sentence, and should not allow anyone to stifle them because of their condition. It is also crucial to let the world know that stopping the stigmatization of people living with Sickle Cell could go a long way to help boost the confidence of those living with the disorder.
Parents and caregivers should also know that the disorder is genetic, and it is not in any way a punishment to parents for the wrongs they have done in the past.
We desire a world where we all will be healthy, and we can only do that if we live healthy lives and create awareness for others to live healthy, too.