Two awareness periods have been designated for raising awareness about Sickle Cell Disease. These periods are generally observed by all organizations involved in providing support to the Sickle Cell community. The awareness periods are as follows.
SICKLE CELL AWARENESS DAY
In 2008, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution to designate June 19th of each year as World Sickle Cell Awareness Day. The day is meant to be used as a time to increase public knowledge of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and raise awareness of the struggles suffers of the disease and their families go through.
On November 22, 2017, the Canadian House of Commons passed Bill S-211 to designate the nineteenth day of June in each and every year as “National Sickle Cell Awareness Day”. The Bill received Royal Assent on December 12, 2017, making it an official law. The Bill was sponsored by Senator Jane Cordy from Nova Scotia.
SICKLE CELL AWARENESS MONTH
The annual observance of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month originated in 1975 when the National Association for Sickle Cell Disease (NASCD) in the United States and its member organizations began conducting month-long events to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and the need to address the problem at the national and local level.
The NASCD (now called the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Inc.- SCDAA) and its member organizations sponsored public educational programs and fundraising activities during the month. State and local government officials issued Sickle Cell Month proclamations and were introduced to local poster children.
The SCDAA tradition of selecting a national poster child (now called the Child Ambassador Contest) from local candidates began in 1976 with President Gerald Ford greeting the first winner(8-year-old Bridgete Earby of Oakland, California) at the White House. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama have also greeted the national poster child.
The effort to have Sickle Cell Month officially recognized at all levels succeeded in 1983 when the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the resolution, introduced by the Congressional Black Caucus, asking President Reagan to issue a proclamation designating the month of September as “National Sickle-Cell Anemia Awareness Month.” President Reagan signed Proclamation 5102 in September, 1983 inviting “all Americans to join…in reaffirming our commitment to reduce the burden of illness, disability, and premature death imposed by this disease.”
Although no official designation of Sickle Cell Month has been made in Canada, the month is usually recognized by the organizations supporting the Sickle Cell community in Canada.