As the most common inherited blood disorder, Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a life-threatening chronic illness that affects millions of people around the world. In the United States, SCD affects roughly 100,000 Americans. It occurs disproportionately in Black and Brown populations, with an incidence of 1 in 365 Black and African American births and 1 in 14,000 Hispanic American births. According to the Georgia Health Policy Center, the Peach State is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of individuals with sickle cell disease, with more than 7,000 individuals living with the disease across almost every county in Georgia.
UnitedHealthcare is committed to reducing health disparities in Georgia and helping people live healthier lives through investments in local community-based organizations that provide access to care and resources. As such, UnitedHealthcare provided MTS Sickle Cell Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness, support, and sensitivity surrounding Sickle Cell Disease, a $50,000 research grant. The grant was provided to develop a Community Health Worker (CHW) research program to better understand the critical role CHWs play in improving health outcomes and addressing health disparities for people living with SCD.
“We recognize that the sickle cell patient population faces disparities in and out of the healthcare system,” said Mapillar Dahn, Founder/CEO of MTS Sickle Cell Foundation. “We are so grateful to UnitedHealthcare for this grant as it allows us to understand the pivotal role Community Health Workers have in helping these patients access care, address socioeconomic needs, and provide connections to much needed resources.”
The MTS Sickle Cell Foundation is collaborating with Dr. Tilicia Mayo-Gamble, Assistant Professor at Georgia Southern University, to ensure implementation is evidence-based. Dr. Mayo-Gamble’s background includes 11 years of patient and community-engaged research as well as facilitating training of sickle cell community health ambassadors.
“We are honored to support the MTS Sickle Cell Foundation and its commitment to build upon the existing knowledge and understanding of sickle cell disease to drive improved health outcomes," said Michael Minor, chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare Community & State Georgia. "This grant highlights our commitment to helping Georgians gain access to essential, high-quality care and services.”
The CHW Research Program aims to address health disparities in marginalized communities, reduce complications and expand access to care. For more information about MTS Sickle Cell Foundation’s Community Health Worker Program, visit https://mythreesicklers.org/chw/.