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Sickle cell disease in sub-Saharan Africa: stakes and strategies for control of the disease

Diallo, Dapa A.; Guindo, Aldiouma

Current Opinion in Hematology: May 2014 - Volume 21 - Issue 3 - p 210–214
doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000038

Purpose of review In the late 1990s publications on cohorts of sickle cell disease (SCD) patients, followed since birth, showed that the life expectancy of SCD patients in developed countries could approach that of those without SCD, when managed appropriately. Between 2005 and 2008, SCD was declared as a public health priority issue worldwide. In 2006, the WHO recommended that African states should include the fight against SCD in their health policies. Nevertheless, there are, as of yet, no data on effective strategies to implement SCD control in these countries. This review discusses the stakes and proposes strategies for SCD management and research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recent findings This work is a review of the recent literature on the burden of SCD in sub-Saharan Africa; on approaches that resulted in improved survival and comfort for SCD patients in developed countries; and, in contrast, on the inadequacies of most issues relating to the fight against SCD in Africa.

Summary Multiple constraints require an organization based on a network of health professionals working in sickle cell referral centers with specific missions of research, communication, teaching, establishment of guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, and the centers of competence that will focus primarily on the screening, diagnosis, and management of SCD patients favoring equity in access to care.

Centre de Recherche et de Lutte contre la Drépanocytose, Bamako, Mali

Correspondence to Professor Dapa A. Diallo, Centre de Recherche et de Lutte contre la Drépanocytose, 03 BP: 186 BKO 03, Bamako, Mali. Tel: +(223) 20 22 3898; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins