Published by: Chicago Defender
Written by: Shera Strange
Sickle Cell Disease or Sickle Cell Anemia is not talked about as much as it was in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, however, the disease was discovered in America in 1910, over 110 years ago. Sickle Cell Anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder where there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. The round red cells usually are flexible and can quickly move through the blood vessels. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) can affect individuals of any ethnicity or race but is more common in African Americans in the U.S. compared to other ethnicities-occurring in approximately 1 in 364 African Americans.
In early Sickle Cell Disease awareness campaigns, The Black Panther Party took up the fight for health and opened free health clinics across the country. In addition, the Black Panther Party recognized that Sickle Cell Anemia was a neglected genetic disease because most of those affected were Black. The party set up a national screening program by running a rapid sickle cell screening program on a simple finger stick.
Access to high-quality health care is a significant challenge in the Sickle Cell Disease community, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 and longstanding healthcare disparities.
A local organization received a grant to support those in Chicago’s underserved communities with Sickle Cell Disease. The Sick Cells organization was named a distinguished grantee of the Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) 2021 Access to Excellent Care for Sickle Cell Patients (ACCEL) Grant Program. Global Blood Therapeutics is a biotech company dedicated to discovering, developing, and delivering life-changing treatments for people living with dire blood disorders, such as Sickle Cell Disease. Established in 2019, the ACCEL Grant Program supports community-based organizations and institutions in accelerating the development of sustainable access-to-care programs. In 2020, the grants focused on the transition of care from pediatrics to adult purpose care. As a result, individuals with Sickle Cell Disease did not have the opportunity to connect with a program in the adult setting the same way they have in the pediatrics setting. Click here to read the rest of the story