The Sickle Cell Research and Treatment Centre (CRTD), a national referral centre founded in 2018 at the initiative of the Central African Republic Ministry of Health and Population is located on the grounds of Bangui’s National University Hospital Centre. Specialising in treatment of sickle cell disease, it has been receiving support since 2019 from the Fondation Pierre Fabre, which has developed leading expertise in the disease and its research and prevention ecosystem in Africa (with initiatives in 11 countries since 2016): creating a research centre to combat sickle cell disease in Mali, supporting the Comité d’Initiative contre la Drépanocytose in Burkina (Sickle Cell Disease Initiative Committee in Burkina or CID/B), a partnership with health authorities in the DRC, etc.
Though largely ignored by healthcare systems and international aid programmes, treatment of sickle cell disease is nevertheless a public health priority in Africa, a continent hit hard by this inherited disease affecting the haemoglobin and which is particularly debilitating and painful.
THREE PRIORITY AREAS OF SUPPORT
EThe Foundation’s support in the CAR focuses on three areas of progress that create the best conditions possible for the structure to fulfil its mission while promoting its long-term stability and developing the staff’s skills:
- Supplying quality medicines essential to treating sickle cell patients;
- Supplying equipment for the centre;
- Training staff in treating this specific pathology by disseminating clinical guidelines.
In 2020, to confront the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fondation Pierre Fabre helped establish training in relevant safety measures and recognition and referral of suspected Covid cases in accordance with national recommendations. Material supplies reinforced this training (personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser, etc.) to protect healthcare professionals and particularly vulnerable patients onsite at the CRTD.
A COMPREHENSIVE REINFORCEMENT PLAN
In response to a growing number of patients from provinces located far from Bangui, the CRTD staff wanted to conduct a remote training session in basic treatment of sickle cell patients. This four-day training course, funded by the Fondation Pierre Fabre, was held in March 2021 in Bimbo and was attended by 78 health professionals (physicians, health workers, midwives) from six areas in Health Region 1 near the capital.
This training operation will be repeated to help create a “sickle cell ecosystem” in the CAR and to improve treatment of the disease at the bottom tiers of the health pyramid. Since June 2021, the Foundation’s support has taken the form of a multi-year reinforcement plan.