New York

19 June 2009

Secretary-General's message on sickle-cell anaemia

Last December, the United Nations General Assembly took the welcome step of adopting a resolution recognizing sickle-cell anaemia as a public health problem.

Sickle-cell anaemia is an inherited condition that affects hundreds of thousands of babies born each year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. I am pleased to lend my voice to the effort to raise global awareness about it. The more people understand the disease, the better we can respond. Understanding is also critical to eliminating the harmful prejudices associated with the condition.

Although sickle-cell anaemia cannot be cured, it can be managed through simple measures such as increasing fluid intake, pursuing a healthy diet, taking folic acid supplements and taking medication as needed. We must ensure that these affordable, common-sense interventions are available to all people suffering from the disease so that they can enjoy healthy and productive lives.

The United Nations, in working to strengthen health systems worldwide, also encourages research on sickle-cell anaemia and helps build capacity to conduct screenings for the disease. I urge Governments, civil society and all other partners to do their part to improve the quality of life of people with sickle-cell anaemia and enable them to live full, productive lives.