June 19 is observed as World Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Day across the world. Sponsored by the United Nations, the international campaign aims to increase public knowledge and provide a better understanding about sickle cell disease and the challenges faced by patients, their families and caregivers. Also known as sickle cell anemia, SCD is an inherited blood disorder – wherein there is not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body.

Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that sickle-cell-disease affects nearly 100 million people worldwide and over 3, 00,000 children are born every year with the condition. This is a genetic condition that affects about 100,000 people in the United States. It is most common in African, Mediterranean, and Arabian Peninsula areas. SCD is considered one of the main causes of premature death among children under the age of five in various African countries. Physicians who treat this inherited blood disorder need to correctly document the same in the patients’ medical records. Opting for medical billing and coding services from an established provider can help simplify the documentation process.

The 2022 annual international campaign aims to raise awareness of SCD and help reduce the stigma and discrimination experienced by families with children and adults living with SCD. It aims to provide the right form of support to the affected population. People with the disease are born with two sickle cell genes, one from each parent. For a baby to be born with sickle cell anemia, both parents must carry a sickle cell gene.

Symptoms of SCD varies from person to person and may include – painful swelling of the hands and feet, anemia, frequent infections, problems with vision, delayed growth and periodic episodes of pain (called crises). If left untreated, this genetic disorder can lead to severe complications like – stroke, acute chest syndrome, organ damage, pulmonary hypertension, gall stones, leg ulcers and blindness.

Diagnosis of SCD involves a blood test to check for hemoglobin S. Generally, this blood test is performed as part of the routine newborn screening done at the hospital. However, older children and adults can also undergo the test. However, if a parent or child has sickle cell anemia, the physician may request additional tests to check for any further complications related to the disease. People who are planning to have children can undergo the test to determine what chances there are for their children to have SCD. Physicians can diagnose SCD before a child’s birth by using a sample of amniotic fluid or tissue taken from the placenta. There is no specific cure for sickle cell anemia.

Treatment may include a combination of medications and blood transfusion. In addition, bone marrow transplant (also known as stem cell transplant) is a treatment modality for SCD – reserved for children and teenagers below 16 years. Physicians who diagnose, screen and treat people with SCD must carefully document these tests and procedures using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services provided by reputable companies can help physicians use the correct codes for their medical billing process.

ICD-10 Codes for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

  • D57 – Sickle-cell disorders
    • D57.0 – Hb-SS disease with crisis
    • D57.1 – Sickle-cell disease without crisis
    • D57.2 – Sickle-cell/Hb-C disease
    • D57.3 – Sickle-cell trait
    • D57.4 – Sickle-cell thalassemia
    • D57.8 – Other sickle-cell disorders

The General Assembly of the United Nations on December 22, 2008 created a resolution that recognized sickle cell disease (SCD) as a global public health concern. The resolution urged the member countries and the United Nations Organization to spread awareness about sickle-cell disease at both the national and international levels every year. Therefore, June 19 of each year was officially designated as “World Sickle-Cell Day”. The first World Sickle Cell Day was observed on June 19, 2009.

As part of the campaign, a wide range of activities are organized across the world. People can participate in the campaign by attending “Shine the Light on Sickle Cell” gathering in their community on June 19. “Shine the Light on Sickle Cell” initiative aims to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait and the unique health challenges people living with SCD face.

People across the globe host/participate in several events like – becoming a blood or bone marrow donor, participating in sponsored run, walk, or cycling events, holding quiz nights, making donations to the Sickle Cell Society, and sharing real-life patient stories on social media platforms – in an effort to overcome stigmas and clear up misconceptions about SCD. People can use the hash tags #WorldSickleCellDay2022 and #ShinetheLightonSickleCell2022 to help raise awareness on social media about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.

Participate in Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) awareness Day campaign on June 19. Understand the stigma associated with sickle cell disease and focus on the different ways to provide the right support to the affected population.