World Sickle Cell DayPublished on 20 June 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Jane Cordy
Hon. Jane Cordy:
Honourable senators, yesterday, June 19, was World Sickle Cell Day. This day is recognized globally by many countries, as well as by the African Union, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Health Organization and the United Nations.
The aim of World Sickle Cell Day is to promote awareness about sickle cell disease and to increase knowledge and support for those living with the disease. Between 3,500 and 5,000 Canadians live with sickle cell disease.
Honourable senators, I would like to draw your attention specifically to the strides and efforts made by my home province of Nova Scotia regarding sickle cell. Nova Scotia has joined this year in declaring June 19 as World Sickle Cell Day. Nova Scotia’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Leo Glavine, was on hand for an event on June 9 when the official certificate of proclamation was presented. I would like to thank Minister Glavine for his support and action on this initiative.
Also in recognition of World Sickle Cell Day, blood donation drives have been championed among ethnic groups across the country in order to increase the supply of rare types of blood. The transfusion of carefully matched red blood cells is an important treatment for this disease. Special blood drives have happened in Alberta and throughout Ontario and Saskatchewan.
Nova Scotia is also among the provinces to have in place a newborn screening program that allows for early diagnosis and immediate intervention and treatment of sickle cell disease. The Maritime Newborn Screening Program at the IWK hospital was announced on April 1, 2014. Newborn screening is important because of the relative rarity of and lack of awareness about the disease. Clinicians and medical staff sometimes have limited experience and expertise with sickle cell disease, and this can often lead to misdiagnosis. This simple test at birth would help to prevent misdiagnosis and would provide medical personnel with the information needed to properly treat a patient.
Honourable senators, I would like to congratulate the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada for all the wonderful work they continue to do in aid of those living with the disease. They regularly promote and recognize the need for a national strategy for treatment and detection of sickle cell. My congratulations to Ms. Lanre Tunji-Ajayi, President and Executive Director of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada; and Rugi Jalloh of the Sickle Cell Association of Nova Scotia. Their optimism and tireless advocacy are making a huge difference for those with sickle cell. Thank you.