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Newborn Screening for Sickle Cell Disease in Jamaica: A Review – Past, Present and Future

Journal Authors: 
Issue: 
DOI: 
10.7727/wimj.2013.107
Pages: 
147–50
 
ABSTRACT
 
Newborn screening (NBS) for sickle cell disease (SCD) has occurred in Jamaica since 1973 in two periods, the most recent being since 1995. As a result of NBS, significant lessons have been learnt about management of the disease. Additionally, significant improvements in morbidity and mortality of children affected with the disease have occurred because of the implementation of simple interventions. Unfortunately, in a country where the burden of disease is high compared to other countries, only approximately 40% of children born in Jamaica currently benefit from NBS. As such, the future of NBS for SCD in Jamaica lies in island-wide screening. There are challenges including the lack of appropriate governance and policy structures, the technology for high-volume processing and comprehensive care clinics throughout the island. On the other hand, the significant strides made in disease management, the strength and model of care of the Sickle Cell Unit, delicately balancing limited resources and increased survival cannot be disparaged. Therefore, consistent with the World Health Organization’s recommendation, we are working toward achieving island-wide screening for SCD, to ensure equitable access to continued improvements in morbidity, mortality and quality of life.
 
Accepted: 
22 Apr, 2013
PDF Attachment: 
e-Published: 11 Apr, 2014
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