JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Health, represented by the Agency for Preventive Medicine, is running an awareness campaign to coincide with World Sickle Cell Day on June 19.
World Sickle Cell Day is observed in order to raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), which affects millions of people around the world. According to the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), SCD is a “group of inherited red blood cell disorders” of which the most well-known is sickle cell anemia.
“Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a sickle,” the CDC website explains. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.”
The ministry’s campaign focuses on sickle cell anemia, symptoms of which can include bouts of pain, swelling of the hands and feet, repeated infections, delayed growth or puberty, and issues with your vision. It has organized educational exhibitions, workshops and lectures and distributed brochures explaining what SCD is and how it can be treated in health facilities throughout the Kingdom, as well as in commercial premises.
Through these events, the ministry has stated that it aims to “urge health institutions to give more attention to sickle cell anemia through setting health programs at the national level, in addition to consolidating and supporting research aimed at improving the quality of life of patients with sickle cell anemia.”
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