Sickle cell project to benefit babies in Antigua and Barbuda

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The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has said that babies born in Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada, would benefit from a project designed to test newborns for sickle cell disease.

Earlier this week, the Saint Lucia-based organization said neonatal screening of sickle cell disease forms part of the INTERREG CARES project, aimed at facilitating stronger collaboration in the health sector between the Eastern Caribbean and the French Associate Members of the OECS, particularly Martinique and Guadeloupe.

According to the OECS, a delegation of medical experts from the Caribbean Network of Researchers on Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia (CAREST Network), and the University Hospital of Guadeloupe, recently completed two technical missions in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada.

The OECS said the missions enabled partners of the project to discuss the advancement in improving the screening and treatment of sickle cell disease in the nine-member OECS sub grouping.

It added that representatives of the two French organisations met with the English-speaking partners of the project, including health professionals – pediatricians, nurses, midwives, obstetricians – sickle cell associations and representatives from the ministries of Health in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda.

The objectives achieved included providing the technical capacities to enable practitioners to perform the extraction of samples on newborns in Grenada; defining the methods of transportation of these samples to the University Hospital of Guadeloupe, as well as the transmission of the results of the analysis to clinicians in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda; and ensuring the continuity of the screening of sickle cell disease after the closure of INTERREG CARES scheduled for December 2020.

CAREST Network president Marie-Dominique Hardy-Dessources said that as a result of the project the screening of newborns can be pursued by rapid tests made available at health facilities in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda.

“Indeed, early detection of sickle cell disease combined with appropriate medical care can improve the quality of life and the life expectancy of the patients,” he added.

The OECS Commission said experts from the two OECS countries will also benefit from training to facilitate the use of the tests, the performance of transcranial Doppler ultrasound and the detection of the risk of cardiovascular accidents of children with sickle cell disease.

INTERREG CARES is a programme of the European Union led by the Regional Council of Guadeloupe which assumes the role of managing authority of the programme.

The programme enabled the French and European territories of Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Saint-Martin, to undertake regional cooperation actions with their neighbours in the OECS and the Greater Caribbean, encompassing more than 35 countries from Mexico to Venezuela.

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