Sickle Cell Anemia
Saving Lives in Haiti
Haiti has a population of over 8 million people, the vast majority of whom are descendants of people from West Africa. It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with an annual per capita income of $225. One in 10 children die before their fifth birthday. It is a tragedy and arguably a moral outrage when children die needlessly. Sadly, children with sickle cell anemia are dying needlessly in Haiti, which has a high prevalence of this inherited disease. In Haiti, until now, a sense of fatalism concerning sickle cell anemia has become a self-fulfilling prophecy – children with sickle cell anemia rarely survive infancy. Ironically, they die of an infectious complication of their disease that could be easily prevented – pneumonia. There ought to be about 8000 patients with sickle cell anemia in Haiti and about 1000 new children born every year. In reality, they are rarely seen because of this complication.
This year, for the first time ever, Haiti will launch a vaccine campaign against the germ which causes pneumonia. This means, for the first time in its history, Haiti's children with sickle cell anemia have a chance for survival. However, Haiti's doctors and nurses have received no training in how to screen for, diagnose or treat sickle cell anemia or its complications. The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has operated sickle cell centers in Miami for decades. In addition, in partnership with Haitian and American nongovernmental organizations has a two decade track record of success in working with Haitian health providers to improve the health of the Haitian people. We therefore have the capacity to train Haitian doctors and nurses and to institute pilot programs to screen, diagnose and treat children with sickle cell anemia.
Haiti HealthShare has created partnerships with the Unviersity of Miami Departments of Pediatrics and Family Medicine as well as the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, the National Basketball Association, and the National Retired Basketball Players Association to establish the first-ever program to train, screen, and treat Sickle Cell Anemia in Haiti.
We are looking for organizations and individuals of goodwill who would like to join in this cause.