BALTIMORE (September 6, 2012) – The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) recognizes September as Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and will be providing education to employees and health care providers about sickle cell disease (SCD), as well as participating in community events.
SCD is a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to lose their shape, leading to many complications, including bouts of pain caused by poor blood flow, infections, stroke, lung disease and kidney disease. An estimated 3,300 Marylanders, mostly African Americans but also Hispanics and those of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean descent, have some form of SCD. Maryland has one of the lowest SCD mortality rates among young children in the United States. The Maryland SCD program has long been a leader in ensuring that children born with SCD receive high quality, comprehensive health care.
There have been significant advances in health care for adults living with SCD as well, including preventive care and management of crises. This has led to improvement in the quality of life for many people by decreasing the need for emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Challenges remain in several areas, particularly in improving the transition of youth to adult health care, as adolescence can be a difficult time for many young adults with chronic disease. In addition, many health care services are concentrated in the metropolitan areas, and serving families in more remote areas of the state continues to be a challenge. Efforts are underway to extend the innovative model of high quality medical care offered by the Infusion Center at Johns Hopkins Adult Sickle Cell Clinic in Baltimore to those with SCD through the state.
“We’re proud of our success with young children. Now we must focus on improving care for adolescents and adults” said Frances B. Phillips, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services at DHMH.
DHMH will be celebrating National Sickle Cell Awareness Month on September 22nd at 10 a.m. on the Baltimore campus of Sojourner-Douglass College at 200 N. Central Avenue, Baltimore. This event will feature the national poster child and local spokesperson for Faces of Our Children, as well as local advocates and health care providers.
In 1983, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution designating September as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. For more information about Sickle Cell, resources, and a listing of community events this month, please visit the Office for Genetics and People with Special Health Care Needs website at http://fha.dhmh.maryland.gov/genetics/SitePages/sickle_pro.aspx. You can also contact the office by phone at 410-767-6730 or access the office’s resource line at 1-800-638-8864 for information about health care resources.
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