85% of more than 400,000 annual births are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Migration means SCD is now more prevalent in developed countries and consequently, the burden of the disease has risen.Multiple factors account for the disparities of outcomes between low-middle and higher income countries – notably the impact of early diagnosis, including newborn screening, the provision of prophylactic penicillin prophylaxis and a comprehensive follow up programme.
With practical and clinical obstacles facing patients with SCD in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a pressing need to address these issues in a collaborative manner between experts in their respective locations.
Royal College and HSL support
RCPath is taking a vital role in an international consortium, The African Research and Innovative Initiative for Sickle Cell Education (ARISE), with the aim of improving laboratory diagnosis and quality assurance systems for population screening of babies and infants. The Project’s scientific coordinator is sickle cell and thalassaemia specialist, Professor Baba Inusa, and the ambition is for the consortium to establish an interagency and multidisciplinary staff exchange programme between researchers, technical and administrative staff. Ultimately, ARISE will foster sharing of best practice in newborn screening, diagnosis and treatment – and lead to better outcomes for SCD.
HSL is also playing a key part in supporting ARISE, specifically, by arranging tours for several secondees to our laboratories. Coordinated by Jacob Hinton with support from Alwyn Neyton and Etka Marfatia in HR, and conducted by Billy Jander and Naina Chavda, the visits have proved very popular and we look forward to further liaison with the ARISE team. There’s much more information about the project on the ARISE website: https://www.ariseinitiative.org/