September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Judith Hayes Walters and Andrew Wesley (Omega Psi Phi at NSU) spoke to the Natchitoches City Council at its Aug. 28 meeting about Sickle Cell Awareness Month: September. Raising awareness of Sickle Cell Disease in the community is a service project of the Krewe of Excellence as well.

The observance, unanimously passed by Congressional resolution in 1983, was endorsed through presidential proclamation, which spoke to the national progress that had been made to diagnose and treat sickle cell disease (SCD).

The proclamation also cited the success of Comprehensive Sickle-Cell Centers across the United States in establishing programs of research, training, and community service to address SCD, a blood disorder causing abnormalities in hemoglobin, leading to the telltale sickle shape in sufferers’ red-
blood cells.

In the past decade, there has been substantial progress in research on sickle-cell disease. Diagnostic procedures have been greatly improved. Measures to ameliorate excruciatingly painful sickle-cell crises have been introduced for those afflicted with the disease.

Sickle cell disease (SCD presents grave health challenges for an estimated 100,000 Americans. For some, it triggers intermittent episodes of pain, difficulty with vision, and serious fatigue.
Other survivors experience this disease more acutely-SCD can cause infections, strokes, and even organ failure

For almost everyone impacted, coping with inherited red blood cell disorders means putting plans on pause, living with excruciating pain, paying for expensive treatments, and hoping for a day when medications and doctor visits no longer interrupt life.

During National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, we recognize the perseverance of SCD patients, and we recommit to working with our partners in State and local government, the nonprofit space, and the private sector to develop treatments and cures for this debilitating disease.

SCD affects our population unevenly. Black and Brown Americans are disproportionately affected. About 1 in 13 Black children tests positive for the sickle cell trait, and about 1 in 365 Black Americans develops the disease over the course of their lifetime. Due to persistent systemic inequities in our health care system, these same patients are also often the last to get help.

As we continue research to find a cure for sickle cell disease, let us celebrate the strides our health experts have made in understanding and treating this condition. Let us continue to offer support to those battling its effects today.

Now, therefore, I, Ronnie Williams, Jr., Mayor, and the Natchitoches City Council, do hereby proclaim September 2023 as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month in the City of Natchitoches, and call upon the residents of the Natchitoches to learn more about the progress we are making to reduce the burden of this disease on our fellow residents.