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As the country emerges from Covid-19, the NHS is shifting to a ‘Build Back Better’ plan to ‘catch up’ with the backlog of patients suffering from other diseases and address areas of unmet need, including sickle cell disease (SCD).
Primarily affecting people from African and/or Caribbean backgrounds, approximately 15,000 people are currently living with SCD in the UK and around 270 babies are born every year with the condition. Yet despite being one of the most common and fastest growing inherited genetic conditions in the UK, people living with the acute and chronic pain of sickle cell disease have been historically underserved. There have been no new treatment options for people in the UK with SCD in over 20 years.
Individuals with SCD frequently experience pain episodes (known as vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs) or sickle cell crises) which can often require emergency hospitalisation. Furthermore, stigma is often associated with SCD due to the nature of the disease and its episodic pain that requires recurrent use of strong opioid-based analgesics.
Research conducted by the Sickle Cell Society (SCS), and reported in its Cast Aside and Forgotten Report, revealed that a staggering 94% were worried or very worried about the risk of health consequences from COVID.
Aston spoke to Michele Slater, vice-chair and treasurer at Sickle Cell Society.