For Immediate Release
January 29, 2007
Democratic senators announce budget amendments to treat sickle cell disease
Would increase funding for treatment centers, establish community health programs
(Richmond, VA) Today, Senator Edd Houck and Senators Lambert, Marsh, Lucas, Locke, and Miller announced that they would sponsor a budget amendment to provide additional funding to support the Commonwealth Sickle Cell centers. In addition, they will sponsor a budget amendment to establish financial support for community based treatment programs.
Sickle cell disease is an incurable genetic disorder that affects the shape and function of red blood cells. To date, over 1100 newborns annually have been referred into Virginia’s Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers. The incidence of sickle cell disease is highly prevalent in the African American community, occuring in approximately one in three hundred and fifty African Americans.
Since 1994 the Commonwealth of Virginia has not increased funding for sickle services and treatment for children and infants, while the number of patients served annually has increased by 186%.
The current centers providing treatment that would receive increased funding include: Children’s Hospital of Kings Daughters (Norfolk), Sickle Cell Center at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond), Sickle Cell Center at Inova Fairfax Hospital, and the Sickle Cell Center at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville). The budget amendment would increase funding to these centers by $532,900 to deal with the increased caseload and establish transition services for youth who will require adult services.
They also announced that they would sponsor a budget amendment to provide $200,000 for community based treatment programs. Virginia’s community based sickle cell programs have the potential to provide culturally competent, family centered support for families coping with sickle cell disease through education and advocacy on the local level.
“Since 1994, we have ignored this urgent funding need,” Senator Houck said. “With the rising cases of sickle cell disease, the Commonwealth needs to recognize this important medical need and provide services to thousands of children afflicted across Virginia.”
“The impact on the African American community is staggering. I will fight to make sure the Commonwealth of Virginia provides the medical treatment and support for families in need,” Senator Lambert said.