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Ontario Hansard - 14-April2014

Mr. Rod Jackson: I recently had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario and the Thalassemia Foundation of Canada. Thanks to these representatives, I learned more about sickle cell disease and thalassemia, two diseases that attack red blood cells.

Healthy red blood cells are essential to health, as these are the cells that provide oxygen to the body. When red blood cells aren't healthy due to sickle cell disease and thalassemia, it can lead to everything from pain to infection, diabetes, heart failure or even organ damage. Thankfully, with regular blood transfusions and proper treatment, most people suffering from these diseases can be treated effectively and with relatively little cost.

Yet there are severe gaps in our health care system which act as barriers to care for people suffering from these diseases, meaning that many people who suffer end up in emergency rooms across the province due to complications from their illness. Even worse, often when they arrive in emergency rooms they have to be transported to hospitals with teams who know how to deal with complications arising from these diseases, and this is costly to patients and to the province.

The problem is that Ontario lacks a coordinated, comprehensive health care strategy for people with these diseases. The need for a provincial strategy is made even more urgent given that sickle cell disease and thalassemia are the most common genetic conditions in the world and are emerging as significant problems right here in Ontario. This is why I urge my colleagues from all sides of the House to support the creation of a provincial strategy for sickle cell disease and thalassemia. Together, we can ensure that Ontario's health care system is one that we can be proud of, one in which every Ontario citizen can receive the care they need and deserve.


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