World Health Days are an essential part of public health policy. They provide opportunity for raising awareness and mobilising local and international support for a wide spectrum of medical conditions.
Sickle Cell Disease is a potentially fatal disease and one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in many African countries (WHO).
World Sickle Cell Day was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 to increase awareness about Sickle Cell Disease and its management among the public. It was celebrated for the first time on June 19, 2009. Annual commemorations following this have further sought to increase public knowledge about the condition.
The United Nations resolution on Sickle Cell Disease UN A/63/L.63 include:
1. The United Nations recognises that Sickle Cell Anaemia is a public health problem.
2. The United Nations highlights why it is necessary to raise awareness about Sickle Cell Anaemia and to eliminate the prejudices associated with it.
3. The United Nations urges member states to raise awareness of Sickle Cell Anaemia on June 19 each year at both national and international levels.
4. The United Nations encourages member states, its own agencies, funds, and programmes, as well as international institutions and development partners to support health systems and health care delivery as well as efforts to improve the management of Sickle Cell Anaemia.
5. The United Nations invites Member States and international organisations to support the efforts being made to combat Sickle Cell Anaemia and to encourage basic and applied research on the disease.
6. In Member States where Sickle Cell Anaemia is a public health problem, the United Nations encourages the establishment of national programmes and specialized centres for the treatment of Sickle Cell.
7. The United Nations requests the Secretary-General to bring the present resolution to the attention of all Member States and organisations of the United Nations system.