Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has called for better health provision for sufferers of Sickle Cell Disorder (SCD). Ms McTaggart’s calls follow her address to the Afro Caribbean Women’s Organisation at Renfield St Stephen’s Church in Glasgow on Tuesday 24th September.
SCD is an inherited condition affecting one in 2,500 babies born in the UK. It affects the quality of the cells that carry oxygen in the blood. The blood cells of someone with SCD change from round to a ‘sickle’ shape and get stuck in the small blood vessels. This causes pain and damage to the baby’s body, serious infection, and in some cases death. Although SCD usually affects people from Africa and the Caribbean, it also affects those from the Mediterranean, Saudi Arabia, India, South America and Poland.
The NHS began a programme in March 2010 which focussed on pregnant women and new-born babies and SCD. The introduction of this programme within NHS Scotland has meant that all pregnant women and new born babies are screened for SCD. However, aside from this, there is still a distinct lack of services for SCD sufferers in Scotland.
Ms. McTaggart said “It was a real pleasure to be able to speak to the Afro Caribbean Women’s Association who are doing so much to raise awareness of SCD and I pay tribute to them for this. The lack of health provision for the disease is really worrying and the absence of facilities for those affected is something that must be addressed.
Despite the relatively high provision of care for the disease in England, this care does not extend to Scotland. There is only one hospital in Scotland, the Sickle and Thalassemia Genetic Counseling Service at Yorkhill, which deals with SCD. This is despite the fact that the African and Caribbean Communities in Scotland have grown in population over the past decade through new migrant communities and placement of asylum seekers and refugees within Glasgow.
I intend to raise this issue at the next meeting of the Cross Party Group on Health Inequalities and I hope that action can be taken on it.”