• Where We Work: Liberia

    Global Health in Liberia

    • City: Monrovia
    • Type of program: Research
    • Partners:
      1. John F. Kennedy Medical Center
      2. Thrasher Research Fund
      3. Noguchi Memorial Research Institute

    Program: Newborn Screening for the Diagnosis and Surveillance of Sickle Cell Disease

    • Start date: 8/1/2012
    • End date: January 2017
    • Status: GHI activity completed

    sickle cell disease doctor in LiberiaIn Liberia, an estimated 1,700 infants are born annually with sickle cell disease (SCD). Presently, 50-90% of children with SCD in sub-Saharan Africa die prior to their fifth birthday, without knowing that they have a manageable disease. Although newborn screening programs worldwide have demonstrated success in reducing morbidity and mortality attributable to SCD, there is no such program in Liberia. Low-cost, high impact initiatives could significantly improve the availability of health care and diagnostics for children and adults with SCD through a multi-faceted effort.

    In 2012, a successful pilot neonatal screening program was initiated at a hospital in Monrovia. In one year, nearly 3,000 infants were screened for SCD. This pilot collected samples from eligible patients with a high rate of accrual, processed samples at a regional reference laboratory, and referred affected children to care. While this pilot has made a substantial impact at the referral hospital, there is much more to be done.

    The primary goal of the neonatal screening and clinical care program for sickle cell disease in Liberia will be to systematically identify children with SCD in the newborn period and to facilitate proper management of the disease from childhood through adulthood. This program will be tailored to meet the needs of various health care communities in Liberia, with the goal to have resources available in cities and in rural areas. Through increasing the availability of health care, education about SCD, advocating for the needs of patients, and increasing opportunities to participate in research, this program will raise the standard of care for patients with SCD. By uniting representatives from the community at large, the sickle cell community, government, and the health care sector, we will combine perspectives and resources to achieve our common goal. Ultimately, increasing survival for all patients with SCD will enhance our understanding of the disease worldwide.

    Sickle Cell Walk in Liberia

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