Sickle cell disease is highly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, where it accounts for substantial morbidity and mortality. Newborn screening is paramount for early diagnosis and enrollment of affected children into a comprehensive care program. Up to now, this strategy has been dramatically impaired in resource-poor countries because screening methods are technologically and financially intensive; affordable, reliable, and accurate methods are needed. I have been testing the feasibility of implementing a sickle cell disease screening program using innovative point-of-care test devices in primary health centers in Sierra Leone as a Fulbright Scholar.
To date, I have launched a pilot cohort of 120 pediatric patients presenting monthly for wellness visits at a community health center in a rural district in Sierra Leone. In partnership with a local patients’ advocacy group, they created a registry of 2300 sickle cell disease patients. Recently, I’ve received funding from the National Institutes of Health to train nurses and midwives in Sierra Leone on how to diagnose sickle cell disease with point-of-care testing and to select children with confirmed sickle cell disease result for comprehensive wellness care.
Cheedy Jaja – Fulbright to Sierra Leone 2018