In Council News, Derek Green, Helen Gym, News by PHL Council

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PHILADELPHIA — Today, Councilmember Helen Gym joined Sickle Cell Disease survivors, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA), and City Council colleagues to honor the SCDAA’s important work in providing culturally-competent services and reducing racial health disparities. In the wake of budget cuts during the pandemic, City Council secured $100,000 in funding for the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter of the SCDAA to ensure those affected by this serious disease would have continued access to their vital services, like counseling, transportation to appointments, and scholarships.

“Our City is proud to fight for and support the Philadelphia Chapter of the SCDAA — to ensure this Black-led community organization can continue their critical, compassionate work for families across Philadelphia,” said Councilmember Helen Gym (At-Large). “The pandemic underscored how critical proactive investments in public health partners are, especially for our Black and Brown communities. Supporting organizations like the SCDAA has never been more important.”

“Sickle Cell is often referred to as the ‘Forgotten Disease,’ which not only affects the individual, but has a profound impact on the entire family,” said Rev. Zemoria Brandon, BSW Administrator for the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter of the SCDAA. “The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/ Delaware Valley Chapter has served to bridge that gap for individuals and families living with sickle cell disease for almost 40 years. We are profoundly grateful that the City of Philadelphia is “Shining the Light on Sickle Cell,” led by the tireless efforts of Councilmembers Helen Gym, Derek Green, Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks, Curtis Jones Jr. and Cindy Bass.”

“Approximately 1 out of every 13 African American children in the United States are born with the sickle cell trait. While mortality rates have improved dramatically over the last 20+ years for those with Sickle Cell Disease, there is still no cure and comprehensive treatment within communities of color continues to remain largely inaccessible. It is my hope that this funding will lead to more investment and increased support for public health initiatives for Black and Brown people who are at greater risk of and suffer disproportionately with Sickle Cell Disease,” said Councilmember Derek Green (At-Large).

The disease affects over 100,000 people across the United States and affects African-Americans at increased rates. In addition to providing social support services, the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter of the SCDAA advocates for improved access to healthcare for communities of color.

“As a board member of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter and having the disease myself, I recognize first hand the importance of Sickle Cell Disease education, assistance and compassion provided to the sickle cell community by this organization,” said Joan Lambright, Board Treasure of the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter of the SCDAA.

“COVID has helped highlight the disparities within the Healthcare systems that the sickle cell community has dealt with for decades,” said Terri Booker, Esquire, survivor of Sickle Cell Disease. “My friends are dying before reaching the age of 40 due to those disparities that continue to fail the sickle cell community at this very moment, so my sense of urgency is to bring awareness to a cause which is literally life and death.”


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