Babies being born in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada will benefit from support for testing at birth for sickle cell disease. The neonatal screening of sickle cell disease forms part of the INTERREG CARES project, which aims to facilitate stronger collaboration in the health sector between the Eastern Caribbean and the French Associate Members of the OECS, namely Martinique and Guadeloupe.
A delegation of medical experts from the CAREST Network (CAribbean network of REsearchers on Sickle cell disease and Thalassemia) and the University Hospital of Guadeloupe recently completed two technical missions in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda. These missions enabled partners of the project to discuss the advancement of one of the main components of INTERREG CARES – the improvement of screening and treatment of sickle cell disease in the OECS Member States.
Representatives of both Guadeloupean entities met with the English-speaking partners of the project, including health professionals (pediatricians, nurses, midwives, obstetricians), sickle cell associations and representatives of the Ministries of Health in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda.
Major objectives achieved include:
- providing the technical capacities to enable practitioners to perform the extraction of samples on newborns in Grenada;
- defining the methods of transportation of these samples to the University Hospital of Guadeloupe as well as the transmission of the results of the analysis to clinicians in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda; and
- ensuring the continuity of the screening of sickle cell disease after the closure of INTERREG CARES scheduled for December 2020.
Sickle cell disease is the most common genetic disease in the world and in the Caribbean in particular. Thanks to this project, the screening of newborns can be pursued by rapid tests made available in health facilities in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda. Indeed, early detection of sickle cell disease combined with appropriate medical care can improve the quality of life and the life expectancy of the patients. ” President of CAREST Network Marie-Dominique Hardy-Dessources.
Health professionals in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda have expressed their full support for the testing of newborn babies for sickle cell disease.
This project has rejuvenated our screening program and rekindled our management of sickle cell patients, and our emphasis on sickle cell disease which is important in our population. Chief Medical Officer of Grenada Dr. George Mitchell.
Experts from both OECS countries will also benefit from training to facilitate the use of the tests, the performance of transcranial Doppler ultrasound and the detection of the risk of cardiovascular accidents of children with sickle cell disease.