Purpose of review
Over the past several decades, hydroxyurea has emerged as a well tolerated and potent disease-modifying therapy for children and adults with sickle cell anemia (SCA). Strong, evidence-based recommendations from the National Institutes of Health, American Society of Hematology, and British Society of Haematology document that hydroxyurea is now standard of care treatment for SCA. In low-resource settings, however, hydroxyurea is rarely utilized due to lack of availability, inadequate treatment guidance, and excessive costs.
Research trials conducted within the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa confirm the efficacy of hydroxyurea as a well tolerated, feasible, and beneficial treatment in low-resource countries. Hydroxyurea is therefore vital to reaching the targets for control of SCA outlined by the WHO. To maximize its utilization toward real-world effectiveness, specific attention must be given to healthcare provider education and training, public and institutional awareness, and medication access and affordability.
Efforts to introduce hydroxyurea effectively into low-resource countries should urgently address the lack of treatment guidelines, gaps in knowledge and clinical infrastructure, and medication inaccessibility. Partnerships among governmental, academic, pharmaceutical, and charitable organizations must tackle these barriers so that all individuals living with SCA worldwide can benefit from hydroxyurea.