The ‘Sickle Cell Cares Foundation’ was launched on Thursday June 19th at the UWI Open Campus.
The Foundation was established to raise greater awareness of the blood disease which shortens life expectancy and is caused by inherited abnormal haemoglobin.
CARICOM Youth Ambassador, Natasha Jervier, is impressed that the National Youth Council (NYCD) has come on board to support this venture. Jervier said that Thursday’s launch was just an example of how the members of the NYCD and the youth of Dominica are representing the country’s young people positively.
In her address at the launch, Dr. Rhonda McIntyre, Head of Pediatrics at the Princess Margret Hospital (PMH), noted that the Health Division is taking measures to aid in the management of the disease as it is often associated with death if not properly treated.
“Sometimes, even managed appropriately it [sickle cell anaemia] can result in death,” Dr. McIntyre informed. “That is something we are very aware of and this disease has to be managed appropriately.”
She also revealed that an issue which is not often considered is the recurrent symptoms which take a psychological toll.
“I think the psychological support that needs to be provided for not just sickle cell patients but patients with chronic conditions is something that needs some intervention and some support,” Dr. McIntyre told attendees.
She tasked the newly-launched organisation to tackle the issue with the help of other associations.
Kellyn George, Director of the Sickle Cell Cares Foundation told attendees that at a prevalence of 35% in Dominica, greater support was needed for persons afflicted with this disease.
“Everybody is talking about chronic non-communicable diseases: we’re talking about diabetes; we’re talking about obesity; nobody’s addressing sickle cell anaemia,” George observed.
The Director said that with such a high prevalence, she saw the importance of drawing attention to the issue.
George hopes that in the future, financial support will be provided by the Foundation to aid persons suffering from sickle cell anemia.