“Hemoglobinopathies are amongst the most common childhood noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) globally. 75% of the 300,000 children born annual with sickle cell disease (SCD), one of the most severe hemoglobinopathies, are in Africa […] Comprehensive, dedicated SCD programs that provide newborn screening, follow up care, family and patient education and counselling, and prevention and treatment of complications can have a significant impact in reducing morbidity and mortality.”
Tanzania has made considerable progress towards reducing childhood mortality, achieving a 57% decrease between 1980 and 2011. This epidemiological transition will cause a reduction in the contribution of infectious diseases to childhood mortality and increase in contribution from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Hemoglobinopathies are amongst the most common childhood NCDs, with sickle cell disease (SCD) being the commonest hemoglobinopathy in Africa. In Tanzania, 10 313 children with SCD under 5 years of age (U5) are estimated to die every year, contributing an estimated 7% of overall deaths in under-5 children. Key policies that governments in Africa are able to implement would reduce mortality in SCD, focusing on newborn screening and comprehensive SCD care programmes. Such programmes would ensure that interventions such as prevention of infections using penicillin plus prompt diagnosis and treatment of complications are provided to all individuals with SCD.