Senegal – Sickle Cell Disease: tangible progress in the early-stage screening study


Operational since the first quarter of 2017, the Centre for Sickle Cell Disease Research and Outpatient Care (CERPAD) at Gaston Berger University in Saint-Louis, Senegal, was created out of the Pierre Fabre Foundation commitment to a far-reaching operational programme to study the early-stage screening of newborns. This update sets out the current status of this flagship programme in the fight against sickle cell disease in Senegal.

Officially opened in December 2015, the CERPAD has its own analytical laboratory and a treatment unit with consulting rooms and daybed care facilities. The centre screens newborns from the maternity unit of the Regional Hospital Centre and the Saint-Louis Health Centre. The partnership between the Foundation and the University, whose campus hosts the Centre, is both technical and financial, and runs until 2022. The aim of the operational study being conducted here is to demonstrate the impact of early-stage screening and treatment of sickle cell disease on newborn mortality and morbidity.

The centre’s close proximity to the Medical Information Systems and Sociology Training and Research Units (UFRs) of Gaston Berger University will make it possible to document all the socio-anthropological aspects of the disease and introduce specific study protocols.

6,000 newborns screened per year

Since April 2017, the CERPAD has taken 1,536 samples from 1,987 births to deliver coverage of 77%. These screening procedures have enabled children suffering from the disease to receive treatment and be provided with appropriate medical follow-up, the main aim of which is to limit the risk of vaso-occlusive crises. The need to provide screening at the very earliest stage is crucial, because estimates suggest that without treatment, one child in every two could die before its fifth year. From 2018 onwards, 6,000 children will be screened every year at the CERPAD.

The operational study now underway is designed to measure the benefit of these early-stage screening interventions and gather conclusive data that will persuade the national public health authorities to extend the programme nationwide. The CERPAD also has a training role to play: throughout the year, UFR Health Sciences students attend internships here to improve their knowledge of the disease and its treatment.

World Sickle Cell Day on 19 June this year will be marked by an event designed to raise local awareness of the disease and provide information about the work done by the CERPAD.