NHS to pitch for sickle cell UK awareness campaign

The NHS is on the hunt for a PR agency to launch a nationwide awareness campaign for its sickle cell and thalassaemia screening programme.

One campaign aim is to boost awareness among journalists of sickle cell anaemia – an inherited disease of red blood cells that can damage vital organs, potentially leading to death – that is most common in people of African and Caribbean descent.

The pitch process is being co-ordinated by NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme, which administers the England-wide newborn screening programme for sickle cell disorders and the antenatal screening programme for sickle cell and thalassaemia.

National co-ordinator Dr Allison Streetly said: ‘A lot of the black and ethnic minority media are more aware than the wider community, as they are more at risk. But people think it only affects black people and it doesn’t.’ She added that sickle cell was ‘neglected by the wider press’.

Around 200 to 300 babies per year are born with sickle cell disorders in the UK.

Thalassaemia – an inherited form of anaemia that is caused by faulty synthesis of hemoglobin – is a more severe condition, although just 20

affected babies are born each year in England.

The pitch is for a three-year contract that also involves parliamentary monitoring and liaison with stakeholders such as the voluntary sector and professional organisations within the NHS.

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