Novartis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, announced that it will drive a series of educational roadshow meetings, which will coincide with World Sickle Cell Disease Month to raise awareness around the impact of the disease in the Gulf. The event will bring together leading medical experts from around the Gulf to highlight the daily burden that patients with Sickle Cell Disease face, the importance of adequate treatment and the need for society to address the disease in order to alleviate stigma.
Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder caused by sickle haemoglobin. This causes the red blood cells to change shape and stick to the blood vessels leading to oxygen deprivation and organ damage.2,3 Patients diagnosed with the disease suffer complications such as anaemia, infections and delayed growth.4 The biggest issue patients face is episodes of acute pain crises which can eventually become chronic.4 Moreover, the genetic disease can shorten patients’ life expectancy.4
The lifelong genetic disorder impacts millions of people globally and impacts the quality of life of patients.1 On top of the physical complications, patients report feelings of anxiety, depression and stress.5 The disease can take an extreme emotional, physical and financial burden on those affected, compounded by social stigma.6
Sickle cell disease is prevalent at a variable frequency across the Middle East, reflecting the nature of blood genetic disorders in the region.7
“The prevalence of the disease and the serious nature of complications underlines the vital need for increased awareness throughout society to improve the quality of life of patients suffering from this lifelong disease” said Wael Omran, Oncology General Manager at Novartis in Region Gulf. "As part of our social and ethical responsibility towards our patients, we are partnering with multiple local stakeholders to alleviate the poor quality of life and stigma associated with sickle cell disease”, he added.
Early diagnosis, ongoing patient education and ongoing medical care can improve patients’ conditions, and even extend life expectancy.8 However, in many regions of the world, these measures are not available, and management remains inadequate.
“At Novartis, our mission is to facilitate patients to break free from physical, emotional and social barriers that accompany Sickle Cell Disease. We are doing this by working with local communities throughout the Gulf to break the stigma surrounding the disease and raise awareness amongst patients on the importance of early diagnosis and available treatment options” continued Omran. “This awareness initiative during the World Sickle Cell Day is pioneering a way forward for patients around the Gulf to connect and support each other in a multitude of ways, and for Healthcare providers to raise awareness about the patients’ journey. This campaign is vital for revolutionising the Sickle Cell community and the way patients live”.