Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is among the most common single-gene diseases in the world but evidence-based comprehensive health care has not been implemented where the highest prevalence of SCD occurs, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It represents an urgent health burden, both in terms of mortality and morbidity with an estimated mortality of 8-16% in children under 5 years in SSA. Addressing the high mortality of SCD in SSA and for effective management of SCD, newborn screening (NBS) should be incorporated with prevention of infections (including pneumococcal septicaemia and malaria), parental education and support at all levels of healthcare provision to enable timely recognition. The NBS working group of the Africa Sickle Cell Research Network (AfroSickleNet) collaboration surveyed current projects in NBS in SSA, and current conditions that hinder more widespread implementation of NBS for SCD. Solutions based on new point-of-care testing technology to disseminate education, and implementation science approaches that leverage existing resources are proposed.
Keywords: Hemoglobin; Newborn screening; Sickle cell disease.