The United Nations General Assembly established the World Sickle Cell Day in 2008 during its 63rd session in order to increase awareness about sickle cell disease, its management and prevention among the public. It was 1st celebrated on 19th of June 2009 to coincide with the date when the United Nations General Assembly recognized sickle cell anaemia as a public health problem in 2008. The United Nationals General Assembly urged member states and the organizations of the United Nations system to raise awareness of sickle anaemia on the 19th of June each year at national and international levels.
Since the declaration of sickle cell disease (SCD) as a major public health problem for sub-Saharan Africa by the World Health Organization,which further indicated that 15,000 to 20,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease every year in Uganda, and 80% of them die before their 5th birthday, Uganda has made tremendous efforts towards the management and treatment of the disease as a means to rid the country of the burden.
This year, Uganda decided to celebrate the World Sickle Cell Day in Bundibugyo on 20th June, because the district is one of the high burden districts with a prevalence of 21.7% of trait and 1.9% of disease.
Surprisingly all districts around Bundibugyo apart from Ntoroko with a trait prevalence of 15%, the rest of the districts around it have a prevalence of trait of >10%.
Bundibugyo has always been known to have a high burden of sickle cell disease, since a study conducted in 1949 put the prevalence of trait among the Bamba in Bundibugyo at 45%!!
The Ministry of Health has started targeted new born screening in high burden districts, coupled with setting up of sickle cell clinics. This will immediately start in Bundibugyo after the event.
A sickle cell match will be conducted through Bundibugyo town, followed by free sickle cell testing at the celebration grounds and a blood donation drive in support of sickle cell patients who frequently need blood.
Dr. Aceng Jane Ruth, the director general health services said, “if we work together, we will defeat sickle cell disease and come to a time when the incidence of sickle cell disease drops to the minimum and no more sickle cell related deaths, with improved health to the sicklers.”