Organized by the CAREST network (Caribbean Network of Researchers on Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemia), in collaboration with the Sickle Cell Unit, TMRI, in Jamaica, this conference was set up in Kingston, Jamaica, on 20-22 January 2016.
This international conference, geared toward assessing progress in sickle cell disease treatment and research, was supported by the Fondation Pierre Fabre.
The event drew over a hundred participants (healthcare professionals, public health specialists, patient associations from the Caribbean and the Americas, NGOs). The three-day conference was an opportunity to review advances in treatment presented in the form of clinical studies and research projects in both the North and the Caribbean. The gathering was also the chance for clinicians to review the benefits of hydroxyurea therapy in preventing complications, and to see confirmation of the considerable interest of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in countries with limited resources.
An overview of current research
Many doctors, nurses and researchers from around the world spoke at this conference. Among them were Professor Russell Ware, a paediatrician and Director of Haematology at the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, who spoke on the use of hydroxyurea (or hydroxycarbamide) in treating sickle cell disease; Dr Isaac Odame, a physician with the haematology/oncology department at the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Canada, who addressed issues and challenges in neonatal screening; and Dr Julie Kanter from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC, USA, who presented three rapid diagnostic tests for sickle cell disease developed in the United States.
CAREST, gathering together researchers and clinicians from several Caribbean islands, is committed to introducing measures to improve knowledge about and treatment of the disease in the region. The association is a Fondation Pierre Fabre partner on the DRECA-HAITI project to implement neonatal screening (through the sickle cell reference laboratory in Guadeloupe) and train healthcare personnel.