Newborn Screening For Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited group of disorders that affect haemoglobin, causing the red cell to form a sickle shape with reduced surface area for oxygen intake and blocking blood flow and resulting in pain. Newborns are screened for SCD at birth or within days or a few weeks after birth for early commencement of prophylactic therapy, education of parents and management to avoid complications and death. The Ministry of Health launched the National Newborn Screening programme for SCD in 2010. Due to its expertise, the Department of Clinical Pathology was designated as the National Laboratory for screening for SCD and other haemoglobin disorders in newborn and young infants. The dried blood spots collected from newborns and the isoelectric focusing technique is used to test for SCD. From 1995 to 2020, the laboratory screened a total of 528,735 babies and diagnosed sickle cell disease in 9,068 (1.71%) of the babies. The plan has always been to have screening sites in all the region in Ghana, however, due to lack of funds, the Ashanti region had been the only region that benefited from the national newborn screening until 2020 when Clinton Health Access Initiative came onboard to support the effort and also provided funds for the additional of 14 more sites in various regions, to the original 10 sites in the Ashanti region.