Third Eye

Kenya among African countries tagged for new sickle cell disease app roll out

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022 01:51 | By

Health technology firm Novartis is set to roll out an application to be used to document and share the diagnosis of babies with sickle cell disease (SCD) in the country.

This comes as Novartis announced its partnership with the American Society of Hematology (Ash) to provide six additional African nations with technology that’s already in use in Ghana.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest SCD burden in the world and this partnership is a testament to our long-standing commitment to provide a comprehensive approach to disease management that encompasses early intervention strategies, such as screening and diagnosis; follow-up treatment such as Hydroxyurea; research to investigate new treatments; and education and advocacy to improve access to existing therapies,” said Novartis Sub-Saharan Africa country president and head Racey Muchilwa.

Dr Bernard Awuonda, consultant paediatrician and consortium on Newborn Screening in Africa (Consa) project lead in Kenya, noted: “Approximately 300,000 children are born with sickle cell disease each year, and around 75 per cent of those are born in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, no country in our region has adopted a universal newborn screening programme, making agreements like this all the more crucial in bringing hope to babies and their parents.”

The partnership between Ash and Consa will provide standard-of-care practices for screening and early intervention therapies at participating institutions in seven countries: Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

Consa screens between 10,000 and 16,000 babies per year in each country and provides clinical follow-up for babies living with SCD1. The app will be used to collect and store data including screening results and medical histories for those people diagnosed with the disease. It has the benefit of tracking patients and migrating them to clinical enrolment for further care.

It also allows offline data collection when internet connections are down, and then syncs the data once the connection is restored.

The Novartis Africa Sickle Cell Disease program is implemented through public-private partnerships with local governments, as well as collaborations with universities, patient groups, professional societies and other organizations.

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