Hammersmith & Fulham Public Health Team are keen to take on discrete pieces of work where public health measures could be implemented to support our communities living with chronic illnesses to prevent hospitalisations and improve health. Their first focal area will be on Sickle Cell Disorder to reduce hospitalisations of children with this condition as a result of preventable painful crises.
The public health team will work closely with the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) to increase awareness of blood disorders and the need for more blood donors.
ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) is a charity committed to helping provide hope to patients living with blood cancer & blood disorders where a matched donor (stem cell, blood, and organ) is required to save a life. Their work is driven by a belief that no one should die waiting for a donor to become available. They improve the odds of finding matches by registering potential donors en masse from all ethnicities, with a focus on donors from minority ethnic heritage due to the extreme shortages of potential donors signed up to the registries.
Andy Slaughter, comments
‘“Recently, it has been highlighted there should be better provisions and care for those living with a blood disorder like Sickle Cell Disorder.
I support the collaborative work of the charity ACLT (African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust) and Hammersmith & Fulham Council in their efforts to raise awareness, educate and empower residents of the borough and beyond. Sickle Cell Disorder is, currently, the fastest-growing genetic condition in the UK, affecting approximately 159 people residing in Hammersmith & Fulham.
The work of ACLT is crucial to ensure there is support for patients affected, or as ACLT call them, Sickle Cell Warriors.”
Sickle cell anaemia, or sickle cell disorder (SCD), is a genetic disease of the red blood cells (RBCs). Normally, RBCs are shaped like discs, which gives them the flexibility to travel through even the smallest blood vessels. However, with this disease, the RBCs have an abnormal crescent shape resembling a sickle. This makes them sticky and rigid and prone to getting trapped in small vessels, which blocks blood from reaching different parts of the body. This can cause pain and tissue damage.
SCD is an autosomal recessive condition. You need two copies of the gene to have the disease. If you have only one copy of the gene, you are said to have sickle cell trait.
While there are multiple types of SCD, they all have similar symptoms, which vary in severity. These include:
- Excessive fatigue or irritability, from anaemia
- Fussiness, in babies
- Bedwetting, from associated kidney problems
- Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Swelling and pain in hands and feet
- Frequent infections
- Pain in the chest, back, arms, or legs
Sickle Cell Disorder is currently the fastest-growing genetic condition in the UK.
Some Sickle cell patients, rely on blood transfusions or red-cell exchanges to treat their condition and potentially reduce the number of crises they may have.
This is why it’s important to raise awareness and encourage all ethnicities to be regular blood donors, to ensure there is enough matched blood to meet demand and help the 18,000 sickle cell patients living in the UK.
“I am really excited about collaborating with ACLT on this Sickle Cell Project. Reducing health inequalities and disparities is so pivotal for Public Health and understanding some of the challenges face by people with Sickle Cell first hand, I was eager to raise awareness across the borough.
As Head of Child Public Health, I am committed to ensuring that children with Sickle Cell do not have to face additional barriers due to a lack of awareness in schools. I am also very keen to encourage as many people as possible to donate blood. For many people with Sickle Cell, regular exchange transfusions allows them to avoid as many painful crises and better ethnically matched blood helps reduce complications. During Sickle Cell Awareness Month and through Black History Month, ACLT will be raising awareness through events and messaging, and we will be working with schools to ensure that they are removing barrios faced by children with Sickle Cell.”
Together, the LBHF Public Health Team & ACLT will be raising awareness with council staff, staff in education providers, students/young adults and residents living in Hammersmith & Fulham.