About 1,000 children are born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in Africa every day. It is an excruciating, deadly disease. More than half of the thousands African children born with SCD annually will die before they are five years old.
SCD is an inherited abnormality of hemoglobin - the protein that carries oxygen to cells. In SCD there is something wrong with the protein so instead of it remaining as isolated units, it sticks together with other units. When this happens, the clumps of protein change the shape of the red blood cell from a doughnut shape, which moves easily, to a sickle shape, which does not. These sickle cells become sticky and get attached to the lining of blood vessels, blocking blood flow to limbs and organs and resulting in multiple consequences including acute pain; chronic pain; infections; hand-foot syndrome; splenic crisis; acute chest syndrome; stroke; eye complications; priapism; delayed growth and puberty; leg ulcers; gallstones; and multiple organ failure.
There is a vast store of knowledge and research funds available in high income countries for the study and treatment of SCD. In developing countries, there is a shortage of funding and a tremendous number of patients.
With the leadership of the GSCDN Medical Director, Dr. Isaac Odame, PGPR brought together leading SCD researchers and clinicians from high, middle, and low income countries to form the Global Sickle Cell Disease Network (GSCDN).
The GSCDN is working to:
The GSCDN is a wonderful example of researchers and clinicians from around the world working together to bring about real change that will not only have a positive impact on children born with SCD, but on whole communities and regions.